The hottest summer of all time

The climate crisis is here: Three global weather records broken this year

Wildfires raging across Europe and Canada. Destructive floods, clouds, and storms in China, India, and Brazil. Heat waves hit many countries.

The most recent one extreme weather events leave little doubt that the weather is here. As a result, many of the climate records for temperature, sea temperature, and sea ice in Antarctica are broken week after week.

“Global temperature records continue to fall in 2023… The scientific evidence is overwhelming, we will continue to see more extreme weather reports and more frequent extreme weather events that affect people and ecosystems, until we stop emitting greenhouse gases,” Samantha Burgess, deputy head. of the European Union’s Copernicus Climate Change Service (C3S), said recently. Here are three such records that were broken in the summer of 2023 and why they matter.

1. The hottest summer of all time

This year’s summer was the hottest on record, C3S and the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) said on Wednesday (6 September). The three-month period from June to August broke previous records with an average temperature of 16.77 degrees Celsius, which was 0.66 degrees Celsius above the 1990-2020 average.

Global surface air temperatures are the 30 hottest summers (June-July-August) on record for the ERA5 data, ranked from low to high. Data: ERA5. Credit: C3S/ECMWF.

Last month was the hottest month on record and the second hottest month after July 2023, according to data released by C3S and WMO. It also showed that the average temperature in August is 16.82 degree Celsius – 0.71 degree Celsius above the 1991-2020 average.

July, global daily temperature crossed the 17 degree Celsius mark for the first time. While on July 3, the average temperature reached 17.01 degree Celsius, on July 6, the mercury rose to 17.08 degree Celsius. The latter is currently the hottest day on record for the planet.

Why it matters: With temperatures rising and El Nino conditions setting in, 2023 could be the hottest year on record. So far the second hottest on record – only 0.01 degree Celsius below the all-time high of 2016.

The development highlights the possibility that the planet could soon be 1.5 degrees Celsius warmer than it was in pre-industrial times. Once a boundary is breached, there can be permanent damage to the earth’s ecosystem, affecting humans and other living things.

2. Maximum sea temperature

The global average sea temperature is also off the charts. Each day from July 31 to August 31, 2023, saw a warmer land surface temperature than the previous record from March 2016. Therefore, August as a whole saw the highest monthly sea temperature on record for all months, at 20.98 degrees Celsius – well above the average for August, with an anomaly of 0.55 degrees Celsius, C3S said.

Daily average global sea surface temperature plotted as a time series for each year from 1 January 1979 to 31 August 2023. The years 2023 and 2016 are shown by thick lines shaded in bright red and dark red, respectively. Data: ERA5. Credit: C3S/ECMWF.

Notably, the sea temperature in the North Atlantic Ocean reached a new high on August 31, when it reached 25.19 degrees Celsius.

Why it matters: The oceans have absorbed 90% of the extra heat caused by human activities since the second half of the 19th Century. Higher ocean temperatures often cause marine heat waves (MHWs), extreme weather events.

MHWs lead to the extinction of many marine species, alter their migration patterns, cause coral bleaching and impact climate. They can make storms like Hurricanes and Hurricanes stronger.

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3. The lowest point of Antarctic sea ice

Antarctic sea ice extent hits new record low in 2023. In July, the extent of sea ice is estimated at 13.5 million sqkm, the lowest levels seen at this time of year since continuous satellite records began in late 1978, reports the NASA Earth Observatory. he said.

Left: Average Antarctic sea ice density in August 2023. The thick orange line shows the ice extent of the August climate for the period 1991-2020. Right: Antarctic sea ice density in August 2023 compared to the August average for the period 1991-2020. Data source: ERA5. Credit: Copernicus Climate Change Service/ECMWF.

August was no better as the monthly value of sea ice coverage was 12% below average – by far the largest negative August anomaly on record, according to C3S. The worst affected areas were in the northern Ross Sea and the South Atlantic and Indian Oceans.

Why it matters: The dramatic decline of Antarctica’s sea ice has alarm bells ringing for scientists. Less ice cover could have dire global consequences. Low sea ice leads to higher ocean temperatures, increased ice formation, rising sea temperatures, and disruption of ocean circulation.

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