Summer 2023 officially the hottest ever - as scientists warn climate records 'not just broken but smashed'

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One scientist said even those still with their heads in the sand on climate action "must now be wondering why their butts are so very hot"

Scientists are urging world leaders to make drastic cuts to fossil fuel use at the upcoming COP28 climate summit, after it was revealed the world has just had its hottest summer ever.

The Copernicus Climate Change Service - the European Union's Earth observation programme - announced this week that the northern hemisphere's 2023 summer was officially the hottest since records began in 1940 "by a large margin", and this year is only 0.01 degrees off being the hottest year ever.

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The global average temperature throughout June, July, and August was 16.8C - 0.66 degrees above average. In Europe, which suffered deadly back-to-back heatwaves and a record-breaking hot July and August, the average summer temperature was 19.6C - 0.83C above the usual average.

July and August 2023 now rank number one and two in the hottest months ever, with Copernicus the month is estimated to have been around 1.5C warmer than preindustrial times.

Summer 2023 was the hottest ever recorded (NationalWorld/Adobe Stock)Summer 2023 was the hottest ever recorded (NationalWorld/Adobe Stock)
Summer 2023 was the hottest ever recorded (NationalWorld/Adobe Stock) | NationalWorld/Adobe Stock

Even the global south - which was experiencing winter at the time - was unable to escape the heat, with well-above average temperatures occurred over Australia, several South American countries and around much of Antarctica.

Climate experts have warned this is a grave wakeup call. Dr Friederike Otto, senior climate science lecturer at Imperial College London, said breaking heat records has become the norm in 2023 - with July also earning the unfortunate title of hottest month in recorded history.

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"Global warming continues because we have not stopped burning fossil fuels. It is that simple," he said. “Studies by World Weather Attribution have shown that climate change has dramatically intensified some of the most devastating weather disasters in the summer of 2023.

"The hot, dry and windy conditions that fuelled the wildfires in Quebec Canada were made at least twice as likely because of climate change. The extreme heatwaves that impacted Europe and North America were made 2-2.5 [degrees Celsius] hotter because of climate change."

He continued: “As long as we burn fossil fuels, these events will become more and more intense, providing ever greater barriers to adaptation.”

Professor Mark Maslin, professor of climatology at University College London, said this year climate records "were not just broken but smashed".

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"With record heat-waves in Europe, America and China, record ocean temperature and extreme melting of Antarctic sea ice we are now feeling the full impacts of climate change," he added.

"Extreme weather events are now common and getting worse every year - this is a wake up call to international leaders that we must rapidly reduce carbon emissions now. Let us hope this message hit home at COP28 in Dubai this December and action actually happens.”

Professor David Reay, executive director of University of Edinburgh's Climate Change Institute, said “even those still with their heads in the sand on climate action must now be wondering why their butts are so very hot".

"We've had some many wake up calls on climate change, the declarations of emergency, and the code reds," he continued. "If the upcoming COP28 climate summit doesn't deliver drastic cuts in global fossil fuel use and emissions then we can officially call the 2020s the Age of Stupid.”

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