Climate change: November 2023 was a secret scorcher - breaking temperature records for the month

Climate scientists say they are running out of words to describe this year's unprecedented temperatures, as the world faces its hottest year ever
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Last month will go down in history as the hottest November on record, marking this year's sixth record-breakingly warm month - despite many Britons starting to feel the winter chill.

With only weeks remaining, 2023 is on course to be the hottest year ever, according to measurements by the European Space Agency’s Copernicus Climate Change Service. This comes after the Earth experienced its hottest summer on record, with July and August 2023 ranking numbers one and two in the hottest months ever.

The climate change agency revealed on Wednesday (6 December) that this November's average temperature of 14.22C was nearly one-third of a degree Celsius hotter than the previous hottest November, in 2020. The month was also 1.75C warmer than pre-industrial times, tying with October - and just behind September - for the highest above-average temperature for any month.

Despite many Britons feeling the chill, this November was actually the warmest since at least 1940 (Photo: Jacob King/PA Wire)Despite many Britons feeling the chill, this November was actually the warmest since at least 1940 (Photo: Jacob King/PA Wire)
Despite many Britons feeling the chill, this November was actually the warmest since at least 1940 (Photo: Jacob King/PA Wire)

Copernicus deputy director Samantha Burgess told the Associated Press the last half-year had "truly been shocking". "Scientists are running out of adjectives to describe this," she continued. "It’s only going to get warmer as long as the world keeps pouring greenhouse gases into the atmosphere."

Ms Burgess warned that would mean “catastrophic floods, fires, heatwaves, droughts will continue”. She added that 2023's record was as good as sealed. "[This year] has now had six record breaking months and two record breaking seasons. The extraordinary global November temperatures, including two days warmer than 2ºC above preindustrial, mean that 2023 is the warmest year in recorded history.”

So far this year, it has been 1.46C warmer than pre-industrial times, about a seventh of a degree warmer than the previous warmest year of 2016, Copernicus scientists calculated. It is fast approaching 1.5C of warming on pre-industrial times, which experts consider a dangerous tipping point for mitigating the worst impacts of climate change.

Scientists, using proxies such as ice cores, tree rings and corals, have said this is the warmest decade Earth has seen in about 125,000 years, and the last few months have been the hottest of the last decade. They say the driving forces behind the six straight record hottest months are human-caused climate change from the burning of coal, oil and gas - which combined with the natural El Nino-La Nina cycle is like jumping up or down on an escalator, AP reports.

The world is in the midst of a potent El Nino, a temporary warming of parts of the central Pacific that changes weather worldwide and adds to global temperatures already spiked by climate change.

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