Home » Climate records “tumbling like dominoes”: 2023 officially the hottest year on record

Climate records “tumbling like dominoes”: 2023 officially the hottest year on record

by Madaline Dunn

The world welcomes in the new year with grim news: 2023 was officially the hottest year on record – and by a significant margin. 

On Tuesday, the Copernicus Climate Change Service (C3S) shared its Global Climate Highlights 2023, which revealed “climate records tumbling like dominoes.”

The EU’s Earth observation programme found that 2023 was 0.60°C warmer than the 1991-2020 average and also 1.48°C warmer than the 1850-1900 pre-industrial level. 

July and August 2023, specifically, were the warmest two months on record.

Likewise, 2023 was the first time on record that every day within a year exceeded 1°C above the 1850-1900 pre-industrial level. 

Speaking about these figures, Samantha Burgess, Deputy Director of the Copernicus Climate Change Service, said: “Temperatures during 2023 likely exceed those of any period in at least the last 100,000 years.”  

The report also shared that nearly half of all days in 2023 were more than 1.5°C warmer than the 1850-1900 level, breaching the temperature goal set by the global Paris Agreement. 

C3S said that while this doesn’t mean the world has surpassed the limits set by the Paris Agreement, which refers to periods of at least twenty years where this average temperature anomaly is exceeded, it sets a “dire precedent.”

And indeed, the record-breaking didn’t stop there. Two days in November were, for the first time, more than 2°C warmer. 

According to C3S, Global average sea surface temperatures (SSTs) also remained “persistently and unusually high,” reaching record levels from April through December. 

Further, C3S explained that while 2023 saw a transition to El Niño, part of the natural climate phenomenon called the El Niño Southern Oscillation (ENSO), which impacts temperature and weather patterns, this alone does not explain all of the increase in ocean surface temperatures at a global scale in 2023.

In February last year, both the daily and monthly sea ice extents – the surface area of the ocean covered by sea ice – reached all-time minima. Eight months of the year also featured record low extents.

Commenting on the data, Carlo Buontempo, Director of the Copernicus Climate Change Service, said that extremes observed over the last few months provide a “dramatic testimony” of how far we are from the climate in which our civilisation developed. 

“This has profound consequences for the Paris Agreement and all human endeavours. If we want to successfully manage our climate risk portfolio, we need to urgently decarbonise our economy whilst using climate data and knowledge to prepare for the future,” added Buontempo.

This climate record-breaking is likely to continue, too, according to some climate scientists who have already shared concerns about 2024’s prospects. 

CC3S shared that the 12-month period ending in January or February 2024 will “likely” surpass 1.5 degrees Celsius above the pre-industrial level, while El Niño is also expected to contribute to higher temperatures in the year ahead. 

The stark reality of these figures is shocking, and the human and environmental impact of these rising temperatures will continue to be devastating. 

Last year saw a record number of weather and climate disasters, the continued destruction of lives and livelihoods, and more species threatened with extinction. 

Indeed, the report highlighted the large number of extreme events across the world in 2023, from floods to wildfires, sharing that estimated global wildfire carbon emissions in 2023 increased by 30 per cent, driven largely by the wildfires in Canada. 

Of course, the health impacts of climate change are only compounding, too, something which came into focus at the recently concluded climate summit in Dubai. 

In the year ahead, climate scientists have urged that it’s crucial the world does not lose focus on climate action; we must now choose the path that keeps us on track to reach climate goals. The science is clear: business as usual is not an option. 

You may also like  | About Us | Careers | Privacy & Policy

 © 2024 ESG Mena