2023 likely to be the hottest year on record, climate breakdown underwaytext_fields
The year 2023 is projected to become the hottest in human history, with global temperatures during the Northern Hemisphere summer reaching record levels, according to the European Union climate monitor.
Over the past three months, regions across Asia, Africa, Europe, and North America have endured heatwaves, droughts, and wildfires, resulting in significant impacts on economies, ecosystems, and human health.
The Copernicus Climate Change Service (C3S) of the European Union reported that the average global temperature for June, July, and August soared to 16.77 degrees Celsius (62.19 degrees Fahrenheit), surpassing the previous 2019 record of 16.48C. Samantha Burgess, Deputy Director of C3S, stated that these three months marked the warmest period in approximately 120,000 years, reported AFP.
August 2023, in particular, registered as the hottest August on record, even surpassing temperatures in all months except for July of the same year. UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres commented on this alarming trend, stating that "climate breakdown has begun." He emphasised that scientists have long warned about the consequences of excessive fossil fuel consumption, resulting in a climate crisis with extreme weather events occurring worldwide.
The rise in global sea surface temperatures significantly contributed to the elevated temperatures, with marine heatwaves affecting the North Atlantic and Mediterranean Sea. Burgess stated that considering the excess heat present in the surface ocean, 2023 is highly likely to claim the title of the warmest year on record.
The report highlighted that, excluding polar regions, global average sea surface temperatures exceeded the previous record from March 2016 every day from July 31 to August 31. Moreover, warmer oceans have a reduced capacity to absorb carbon dioxide (CO2), intensifying the cycle of global warming and disrupting vulnerable ecosystems.
Antarctic sea ice also experienced record lows, with a monthly value 12% below the average, marking the most significant negative anomaly for August since satellite observations began in the 1970s.
Scientists anticipate the worsening of temperatures due to the El Nino weather phenomenon, which has only recently started. Its most severe effects are expected to materialise by the end of 2023 and into the following year.
The findings come as countries prepare for the high-stakes climate summit in Dubai, beginning on November 30. This summit follows the 2015 Paris climate agreement, which aimed to limit global temperature increases to well below 2C above pre-industrial levels, with an aspirational target of 1.5C.
An upcoming report by UN experts will assess global progress toward these goals, and early indications suggest that countries are significantly lagging behind their commitments. UN Secretary-General Guterres called for immediate action, emphasising that "surging temperatures demand a surge in action."
The C3S findings were derived from extensive computer-generated analyses using data from satellites, ships, aircraft, and weather stations worldwide. Proxy data, such as tree rings and ice cores, enabled scientists to compare modern temperatures with historical records dating back to the mid-19th century.