The European Copernicus Observatory announced on Wednesday that the summer (June-July-August) saw the highest average global temperatures ever measured, and 2023 will likely be the hottest year in history.
“Climate collapse has begun,” UN Secretary-General António Guterres said in a statement.
“Our climate is collapsing faster than we can cope, with extreme weather events hitting every corner of the planet,” he added, recalling how “scientists have long warned of the consequences of our dependence on fossil fuels.
Heatwaves, droughts, floods and fires struck Asia, Europe and North America during this period, of massive and often unprecedented proportions, with resulting loss of life and damage to economies and the environment.
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“For 120 thousand years”
The Southern Hemisphere was not spared, with several heat records being broken in the middle of the southern winter.
The 2023 June-July-August season, which corresponds to summer in the Northern Hemisphere, where the vast majority of the world’s population lives, “was by far the hottest on record in the world, with a global average temperature of 16.77 Celsius”. “C,” Copernicus announced.
This is 0.66 degrees Celsius higher than averages for the period 1991-2020, which has already been marked by rising average global temperatures due to human-induced global warming. It is much higher – about 2 tenths – than the previous record from 2019.
July was the hottest month on record, and August 2023 is now the second hottest, Copernicus says.
Over the first eight months of the year, the average global temperature was “only 0.01°C behind 2016, the hottest year on record.”
But that record is hanging by a thread, given seasonal forecasts and the return of the El Niño climate phenomenon in the Pacific region, which has been synonymous with further global warming.
“Given the excess heat on the surface of the oceans, 2023 is likely to be the hottest year (…) known to humanity,” said Samantha Burgess, Vice-Chancellor of Climate Change (C3S) at the University of California. Copernicus.
The Copernicus database dates back to 1940, but can be compared to climates of the past thousands of years, created using tree rings or ice cores and compiled in the latest report by the UN Panel of Climate Experts (IPCC).
On this basis, Ms. Burgess says: “The three months we have just witnessed are the warmest in about 120,000 years, that is, since the beginning of human history.”
Ocean temperature rise
Despite three consecutive years of La Niña, the opposite phenomenon to El Niño, that partly masked rising temperatures, the years 2015-2022 were already the hottest on record.
The rising temperature of the world’s seas, which still absorb 90% of the excess heat resulting from human activity since the industrial era, plays a major role in this phenomenon.
Since April, its average surface temperature has been developing to unprecedented levels of heat.
Copernicus notes that “from July 31 to August 31,” “temperatures exceeded the previous record set in March 2016 every day,” reaching an unprecedented symbolic level of 21 degrees Celsius, which exceeds all Records clearly.
“Rising ocean temperatures cause the atmosphere to warm and increase humidity, leading to more intense precipitation and an increase in the energy available to tropical cyclones,” asserts Samantha Burgess.
The rise in temperature also affects biodiversity: “There are fewer nutrients in the ocean (..) and less oxygen,” which threatens the survival of animals and plants, adds the scientist, who also points to coral bleaching, harmful algal blooms or “the possible collapse of organisms.” “Live.” Reproductive cycles.
“Temperatures will continue to rise as long as we don’t stop emissions,” especially from burning coal, oil and gas, recalls Samantha Burgess three months before the UN Climate Change Conference (COP28) in Dubai.
The UN climate conference, where an intense battle over the end of fossil fuels looms, is supposed to put humanity back on the path of the Paris Agreement: limiting temperature rise to well below 2 degrees Celsius, and if possible to 1.5 degrees Celsius compared to 1.5 degrees Celsius. percentage. Pre-industrial era.
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