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HomeClimateUN’s weather monitoring agency says extreme heat, droughts affecting C’bbean

UN’s weather monitoring agency says extreme heat, droughts affecting C’bbean

UNITED NATIONS (CMC) – The United Nations weather monitoring agency, World Meteorological Organization (WMO), says 2023 saw another climate record tumble, with Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC) registering their hottest-ever recorded temperatures.

WMO attributed the temperatures to a “double whammy” of El Niño and long-term climate change, leading to droughts and wildfires combined with extreme rainfall and hurricanes.

“Unfortunately, 2023 was a year of record climatic hazards in Latin America and the Caribbean,” said WMO head Celeste Saulo. “El Niño conditions during the second half of 2023 contributed to a record warm year and exacerbated many extreme events.”

“This combined with rising temperatures and more frequent and extreme hazards due to human-induced climate change.”

According to WMO, the 2023 mean temperature was the highest on record, 0.82°C above the 1991–2020 average and 1.39°C above the 1961–1990 baseline.

WMO said the year was “exceptional” for Mexico, where temperatures exceeded 45°C, or 113°F, at many weather stations, with a high of 51.4°C (124.5°F) on August 29. It also experienced the fastest rate of warming in the region, WMO said.

The UN weather monitoring agency said extreme heatwaves affected central South America from August to December, with the mercury soaring in parts of Brazil to above 41°C in August.

WMO said Peru, Bolivia, Paraguay, and Argentina all recorded their highest September temperatures. In Uruguay, the 2023 summer was the driest among the last 42 years on record.

The extreme weather also claimed many lives, along with massive wildlife, ecosystem, and economic losses, WMO said.

WMO said there were also increased health risks due to exposure to heatwaves, wildfire smoke, sand dust, and air pollution, leading to cardiovascular and respiratory problems.

At the same time, WMO said record temperatures in the Tefé Lake in the Brazilian Amazon killed over 150 dolphins.

UN Secretary-General António Guterres on Wednesday reiterated his call for “swift international action to curb the chaotic effects of climate change.”

Against the worrying background, WMO also called for increased investment and support for climate services, particularly in the health and disaster preparedness sectors, to address the escalating climate-related challenges Latin America and the Caribbean face.