June 2023 was the warmest June on record. The heat did not stop there. July, August and September were also the hottest months, and the trend continued. According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) National Centers for Environmental Information of the United States, October 2023 was the hottest October on record globally in analyses dating back to 1850. That’s five consecutive months of record temperatures.
The average global temperature for October according to NOAA was 1.34 °C above the 20th-century average of 14.0°C. In addition to NOAA, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration of the US, the Japan Meteorological Agency, and the European Copernicus Climate Change Service also rated October 2023 as the warmest October on record.
The record-smashing heat was not limited to Earth’s surface. In the upper atmosphere, October had the largest departure from average of any month since satellite measurements began which is 0.93°C above the 1991-2020 average. The previous record was set just last month at 0.9°C above the 1991-2020 average.
Because of the five consecutive warmest months, 2023 is on track to overtake 2016 as the warmest year on record for the world. For January to October, the global mean temperature for 2023 is the highest on record at 1.43°C above the 1850-1900 pre-industrial average, and 0.10°C higher than the 10-month average for 2016. Recent analyses by the European Union’s Climate Change Service suggest the global average temperature rose to two degrees Celsius higher than pre-industrial levels for the first-time last November 17 to 18, 2023.
A big contribution to the record warm weather is the El Niño conditions in the equatorial Pacific. This was also the case in 2016. An El Niño event was in effect for most of 2015 and the first third of 2016. Researchers estimate the direct impact of the natural El Niño warming in the tropical Pacific increased the annual global temperature anomaly for 2016 by 0.12°C.
The effect of the warming can be seen in the Antarctic sea ice which is at record low levels for the time of the year for the sixth month in a row. The average extent was 16.6 million km2, 11 percent below the average for October. This was the lowest extent for October by a large margin within the 45-year satellite dataset, with the previous lowest extent of five percent below average recorded in October 1986.
Will the trend continue? A major news report published recently finds that governments plan to produce around 110 percent more fossil fuels in 2030 than would be consistent with limiting warming to 1.5°C, and 69 percent more than would be consistent with 2°C. According to the UN, fossil fuels like coal, oil and gas, are the largest contributor to global climate change, accounting for over 75 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions and nearly 90 percent of all carbon dioxide emissions.
“Governments are literally doubling down on fossil fuel production; that spells double trouble for people and planet,” said UN Secretary-General António Guterres. “We cannot address climate catastrophe without tackling its root cause: fossil fuel dependence,” he added.
Let’s brace ourselves for the worst!