2023 May Be Warmest Year Ever: “The Climate Breakdown Has Begun” | Science and the planet

The European Copernicus Observatory announced, on Wednesday, that the world witnessed this summer (June, July, August) the highest average temperatures ever recorded. For the observatory, 2023 is likely to be the warmest year on record. “The climate collapse has begun,” UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said in a statement.

Heatwaves, droughts, floods and fires have hit Asia, Europe and North America on massive and often unprecedented proportions, wreaking havoc on human lives, the economy and the environment. The Southern Hemisphere was not spared, as many heat records were broken in the middle of winter.

“June-July-August 2023,” summer in the northern hemisphere where the vast majority of the world’s population lives, “was the warmest period ever in the world, with an average global temperature of 16.77°C.” This is 0.66°C higher than the average for the period 1991-2020, which already saw temperatures rise due to human-induced global warming, and is higher than the previous record set in 2019.

The institute estimates that the temperature on Earth in August was about 1.5 degrees higher than it was before global warming began. The fact that this happens in one month does not immediately mean that the Paris climate agreement is already broken. In that agreement, world leaders agreed to make every effort to keep the temperature rise well below 2 degrees, preferably under 1.5 degrees.

“Compelling scientific evidence” of climate change

Samantha Burgess, director of Copernicus, points to the “incontrovertible scientific evidence” of climate change in her reaction to the numbers. “We will continue to see record climate records and an increase in extreme weather events, affecting society and ecosystems, until we stop emitting greenhouse gases,” she warned.

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The sea water temperature has also increased significantly in recent times. A new record was set in the North Atlantic on August 31. On the surface, the sea water temperature reached 25.19 degrees, which is an unprecedented temperature. Worldwide sea water temperatures of around 21 degrees were well above the long-term average.

Apart from climate change, the natural El Niño phenomenon is developing. It is a recurring phenomenon in which the surface temperature of the Pacific Ocean rises sharply for about six months, with significant effects on weather systems.

In figures published on Wednesday, Copernicus also discusses the small amount of sea ice around Antarctica. It has never been this low since satellite measurements began.

Copernicus measurements

The European body constantly analyzes measurements from satellites, ships, aircraft and weather stations around the world. Accordingly, the service has a good picture of the weather on the ground. The Copernicus database dates back to 1940, but is comparable to the climate of the past millennia, thanks in part to the tree’s growth rings.

Accordingly, “the past three months were the warmest in about 120,000 years, that is, since the beginning of human history,” according to Burgess. Despite heat waves and other extreme weather events, no heat record has been set in Europe. On average, the summer of 2023 is the fifth warmest on record on our continent.

Megan Vasquez

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