In the Northern Hemisphere’s hottest summer on record, August came in second on the list to only July. Although the summer of 2023 established a record for the season, the size of the benchmarks and important statistics show how uncommon the season was.
According to data released Wednesday by the Copernicus Climate Change Service, for instance, August was roughly 1.5°C (2.7°F) above the preindustrial average, proving once more that for brief periods, the world is already brushing against a significant threshold included in the Paris Agreement.
The first eight months of this year are the second-warmest on record for that time period. It falls just 0.1°C (0.18°F) short of the 2016 record holder.
It’s expected that 2023 will surpass 2016 to capture the top rank given the presence of a growing El Nio phenomenon in the tropical Pacific Ocean, which raises the temperature of the oceans and atmosphere.
Zooming out August saw extremely warm ocean temperatures around the world, with each day of the month seeing average sea surface temperatures that broke previous records.
Hurricane forecasters increased the anticipated number of tropical storms and hurricanes during this season as a result of the North Atlantic sea surface temperatures setting record highs throughout the month.
And as the Antarctic winter came to an end, Copernicus discovered that sea ice extent there remained at the lowest level ever recorded for the time of year, with a monthly value that was 12% below average.
These data points may seem obscure or unrelated to everyday life when seen alone. However, during the summer, hazardous heat waves struck on land and in the water, raising average temperatures.
According to scientists, the El Nio phenomenon and human-caused climate change are the main causes of the severe heat.
A “Climate Ambition Summit” at the U.N. later this month will take place against the backdrop of the extreme heat and weather events occurring all around the world, including devastating flooding in Greece and heat domes throughout the U.S. and Canada.
What they’re saying: “Global temperature records continue to tumble in 2023, with the warmest August following on from the warmest July and June, leading to the warmest boreal summer in our data record going back to 1940,” said Samantha Burgess, deputy director of the Copernicus Climate Change Service.
“The scientific evidence is overwhelming —we will continue to see more climate records and more intense and frequent extreme weather events impacting society and ecosystems, until we stop emitting greenhouse gases,” Burgess said.