Climate Systems Hub Newsletter December 2023

December 6, 2023

2023. My 2023 started with the word ‘optimism’. It was my daughter’s suggestion for the new year. At first, I was suspicious. Just a word? I asked. ‘Try it out,’ she said. ‘Come back in a year and tell me how it went.’ So here I am. It’s almost over, but this year has already been announced as the warmest on record and that fact is hard to be optimistic about. Looking at the year I see climate going off the charts. Again. Yet different again. But this time somehow more.

The world got hot.

This year will be the hottest on record according to the World Meteorological Organisation. In November there were consecutive days where the global average surface temperature peaked above 2°C warmer than the preindustrial average for the first time.

There were frightful fires both in terms of extent (Canadian boreal forests) and intensity (Maui and Southern Europe). 37% of global oceans experienced marine heat waves in October alone.

Tragic inundations hit, killing thousands in unexpected places like Libya. A significantly shrinking Southern Ocean surface sea-ice spread was seen in summer. Then winter. A million square kilometres less sea ice than the previously observed lowest winter maximum. The area of missing ice is equivalent to the size of the Murray Darling Basin.

In the shadow of increasing geopolitical tension and expanding environmental degradation, climate change remains an international issue and internationally quite a bit has been happening. This is cause for optimism.

The World Climate Research Programme held its decadal Open Science Conference 2023, shedding light on the scientific advances informing our future.

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change elected a new Bureau to govern the Seventh Cycle. The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change commenced its first Global Stocktake of National commitments to the Paris Agreement. And as I write the Conference of Parties are kicking off their 28th. A good time to have a carbon budget handy.

The International Coupled Model Intercomparison Project announced preparations for improved projections of future climate with an updated range of socio-economic scenarios. We can be a part of that. And back home we saw our first National Climate Risk Assessment spring to life, with the promise of a National Adaptation Plan forthcoming.

I want to be positive, even optimistic. Why? Because now nearly everybody knows. As a climate scientist it is becoming rare to be asked if climate change is real. We’re now far more likely to be asked what to do about it. That is 2023.

For the Climate Systems Hub, it is timely that we engaged our full cohort of cross-jurisdictional state knowledge brokers this year. They connect us: you the research users and policymakers with climate scientists, adaptation specialists, First Nations groups, early-career professionals, and the wider community. We are better and stronger united together to face the many challenges ahead.

Thanks for engaging with the Climate System Hub in 2023. And please join our end-of-year webinar reflecting on this year. I will bring my optimism and some special guests with the hope that you will again bring your engaging questions that take us all forward together.

With best wishes for the new year 2024,


Dr Simon Marsland

Climate Systems Hub Leader

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