Global temperatures are soaring, and the year 2023 is on track to become the hottest on record, according to the European Union’s Copernicus Climate Change Service (C3S). The Northern Hemisphere summer of 2023 witnessed unprecedented heatwaves, droughts, and wildfires across Asia, Africa, Europe, and North America, causing significant impacts on economies, ecosystems, and public health.
C3S reported that the average global temperature for June, July, and August of 2023 reached 16.77 degrees Celsius (62.19 degrees Fahrenheit), surpassing the previous record set in 2019 at 16.48°C. Samantha Burgess, Deputy Director of C3S, emphasized that these three months marked the warmest period in approximately 120,000 years, effectively spanning all of human history.
August 2023, in particular, stood out as the hottest August ever recorded and warmer than all months except for July of the same year. UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres stated, “Climate breakdown has begun,” underscoring the dire situation. He stressed that scientists had long warned about the consequences of continued reliance on fossil fuels, leading to extreme weather events worldwide.
The report noted that record-high global sea surface temperatures significantly contributed to the ongoing heatwave, leading to marine heatwaves in the North Atlantic and Mediterranean Sea. C3S’s Samantha Burgess suggested that 2023 is likely to surpass previous records as the warmest year globally, given the excess heat retained in the surface ocean.
The report also highlighted that the global average temperature for the first eight months of 2023 was only 0.01°C below the benchmark set in 2016. If the Northern Hemisphere experiences a “normal” winter, it is highly probable that 2023 will be the hottest year ever recorded.
The role of warming oceans was emphasized, as they have absorbed 90% of the excess heat generated by human activity since the industrial age. Oceans continue to accumulate heat as greenhouse gas emissions, primarily from burning fossil fuels, accumulate in the Earth’s atmosphere. Higher ocean temperatures not only contribute to global warming but also disrupt marine ecosystems and hinder the ocean’s ability to absorb carbon dioxide (CO2).
Antarctic sea ice also remained at a record low for the time of year, with a monthly value 12% below average. This alarming trend further underscores the impact of rising global temperatures.
Looking ahead, scientists anticipate that the El Niño weather phenomenon, which warms southern Pacific waters and beyond, will exacerbate the global temperature rise. The worst effects of this El Niño event are expected to be felt by the end of 2023 and into the following year.
As world leaders prepare for the high-stakes climate summit in Dubai starting on November 30, the upcoming “Global Stocktake” report by UN experts is expected to reveal the stark reality of countries falling behind their commitments to keep global temperature increases well below 2°C above pre-industrial levels, as agreed upon in the 2015 Paris climate summit.
In response to these alarming findings, UN Secretary-General Guterres urged world leaders to take immediate and decisive action, emphasizing that “Surging temperatures demand a surge in action” and that “Leaders must turn up the heat now for climate solutions.”
The C3S findings were based on extensive computer-generated analyses using data from satellites, ships, aircraft, weather stations, as well as proxy data from tree rings and ice cores to compare modern temperatures with pre-19th century records.
Sources By Agencies