The global mean temperature for 2023 is set to be the highest ever registered, after record temperatures month on month between January and October.
Billions of measurements
The latest report by the Copernicus Climate Change Service (C3S), based on “billions of measurements from satellites, ships, aircraft and weather stations around the world”, shows that 2023’s global temperature is 1.43°C above the pre-industrial average (1850-1900) and at current rates of increase, we will hit 2.4°C of warming by the end of the 21st century, above the 1.5°C limit agreed at the Paris climate conference in 2015.
In the latest of a series of record-busting climate milestones, October has been revealed to be another monster month, with the warmest ever surface air temperatures globally (15.30°C) and the highest ever average sea surface temperature for October (20.79°C over 60°S–60°N). The extent of Antarctic sea ice remains at a record low for sixth consecutive month, 11% below average. Arctic sea ice is at its seventh lowest extent for October, 12% below the monthly average.
#Copernicus for #ClimateChange awareness— Copernicus EU (@CopernicusEU) November 13, 2023
According to the latest monthly climate bulletin of our #CopernicusClimate Change Service,
📈The average sea surface temperature for October 2023 was the highest on record for October
Read more https://t.co/JNR8YnY1UF pic.twitter.com/r75Gx80Z5t
“Record human suffering”
Headlines from the latest Copernicus bulletin are bound to inform the next round of international climate policy-making at COP28 but experts reacting to the data are keen to ensure the findings are not seen as abstract figures to be discussed by distant politicians. Friederike Otto, climate scientist at Imperial College London, pointed out the very real impact of climate change on human lives. “The fact that we’re seeing this record hot year means record human suffering,” she said. “Within this year, extreme heatwaves and droughts made much worse by these extreme temperatures have caused thousands of deaths, people losing their livelihoods, being displaced etc. These are the records that matter.”
She also emphasised the duty of care politicians have to ensure adherence to the Paris agreement’s parameters: “That is why the Paris agreement is a human rights treaty, and not keeping to the goals in it, is violating human rights on a vast scale.”
El Niño to continue into 2024
While some climate change sceptics have historically made jokes about warmer weather being desirable, this is a massive over-simplification. As well as catastrophic heatwaves, wildfires and droughts, with climate change come more frequent extreme wet weather events globally. October saw a number of named storms and flooding battering Europe and these have continued into November. Wetter than average conditions and cyclones in regions as diverse as the southwest of North America, parts of the Arabian Peninsula, regions of Central Asia and Siberia, southeast China, Brazil, New Zealand and regions of southern Africa.
Moreover, it is likely that worse things are on the horizon. Many are aware that 2023 was a so called El Niño year, but the World Meteorological Organization has warned not only that El Niño will last until at least April 2024, but that El Niño effects are typically worse the following year, meaning the grim accumulation of climate milestones looks set to continue.