July 2023 easily broke the record for the hottest month ever recorded on Earth, surpassing the previous record, which was July 2019, by 0.33°C.
Marked by heatwaves and wildfires around the world, last month’s average air temperature was 0.72°C higher than the most recent July average from 1991 – 2020.
Global warming of about 1.2°C since the late 19th century, driven by the burning of fossil fuels, has made heat waves hotter, longer and more frequent. Other extreme weather events such as storms and floods have also increased.
“Heat was recorded in many regions of the Northern Hemisphere, including southern Europe. Significantly higher than average temperatures were observed in several South American countries and in much of Antarctica,” the EU’s Copernicus climate observatory said.
The global average temperature for 2023 is the third highest on record at 0.43°C over the period 1991-2020, compared to 0.49°C for 2016 and 0.48°C for 2020. The difference between 2023 and 2016 is expected to decrease in the coming months, as the last months of 2016 were relatively cool, while the rest of 2023 is expected to be relatively warm with the development of the El Niño phenomenon.
The world’s oceans also set a new temperature record, raising concerns about the knock-on effects on the planet’s climate, marine life and coastal communities.
According to data from the climate observatory of the European Union, on July 30 the temperature of the surface of the oceans rose to 20.96°C. The previous record was 20.95°C in March 2016, a spokesperson for the Copernicus Climate Change Service told AFP earlier.
“We have just witnessed global air and ocean surface temperatures set new records in July. These records have severe consequences for both people and the planet, which is exposed to increasingly frequent and intense extremes phenomena,” said Samantha Burgess, deputy director of the EU’s Copernicus Climate Change Service.
Forest fires ravaged large areas in Greece and burned 12 million hectares in Canada, while southern Europe, parts of North Africa, the southern United States and parts of China were subjected to a devastating heat wave. The deadly rains that flooded the Chinese capital Beijing in recent days were the heaviest since records began 140 years ago.
UN chief Antonio Guterres recently issued an SOS appeal.
“Climate change is here. It’s terrifying. And it’s just the beginning. The era of global warming is over; the era of global boiling has arrived,” Guterres said, calling for immediate and bold action to cut emissions that heat the planet.
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