Climate change: 2023 virtually certain to be warmest year on record - as temperature records 'obliterated'
Climate scientists say the sense of urgency for ambitious climate action has never been higher
It's now virtually certain that this year will be the warmest ever, as scientists say temperature records for recent months have been "obliterated". The Copernicus Climate Change Service - the European Union's Earth observation programme - announced on Wednesday (November 8) that after a series of "exceptional temperature anomalies", 2023 would almost certainly go down in history as the warmest year on record.
This comes after the world experienced its hottest summer ever as much of the northern hemisphere was gripped by back-to-back heatwaves, with July and August ranking one and two in the hottest months ever.
This October was the warmest ever experienced, the service said, with an average temperature of 15.3C. This was 0.85 degrees hotter than the 1991-2020 average for the month, and 0.4C hotter than October 2019 - the previous record-holder. The month as a whole was 1.7C higher than the pre-industrial average.
On top of that, the whole calendar year to date has been 1.43C warmer than the pre-industrial average, creeping dangerously close to the 1.5C limit world leaders have been fighting to limit global warming to - to mitigate some of the worst effects of climate change.
Copernicus deputy director Samantha Burgess said October 2023 saw "exceptional temperature anomalies, following on from four months of global temperature records being obliterated". "We can say with near certainty that 2023 will be the warmest year on record," she continued."The sense of urgency for ambitious climate action going into COP28 has never been higher."
October also saw above-average rainfall across most of Europe, with storms Babet and Aline wreaking havoc and causing severe flooding - which claimed seven lives in the UK alone. Meanwhile in the US and Mexico, it was drier than average, with some regions experiencing drought conditions.
The service also found that October marked the sixth consecutive month that Antarctic sea ice remained at record low levels for this time of year, with 2023 being 11% below the monthly average. The loss of Antarctic ice has had a devastating effect on wildlife, with a number of Emperor penguin colonies experiencing "catastrophic breeding failure" as a result.