Believe it or not, average global surface temperatures have actually been relatively cool over the last three years — but that’s about to change, Andrew writes.

Why it matters: Temperatures are expected to jump this year — and 2023 or 2024 could set a new global record.

The big picture: A rare “triple dip” La Niña in the tropical Pacific Ocean kept temperatures in check in 2022, with the year ranking fifth-warmest since instrument records began.

  • La Niña events are characterized by cooler-than-average waters in the equatorial tropical Pacific and tend to put a lid on global temperatures.
  • But 2022 was among the warmest La Niña years on record, and if the phenomena dissipate, as forecasts increasingly indicate, global temperatures would likely jump this year and even more so next year.
  • If an El Niño event — characterized by milder than average tropical Pacific Ocean temperatures — sets in, 2023 could even meet or come close to hitting a record high.

What they’re saying: “I forecast about a 15% possibility of a new record in 2023. And if we are in an El Niño by the end of 2023, an almost certainty of a new record in 2024,” Gavin Schmidt, who heads NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies in New York, told Axios via email.

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