2023 May Be The Hottest Year In Human History: EU Climate Monitor

The EU Copernicus Climate Change Service (C3S) warns that 2023 may be the hottest year in human history, with unprecedented heatwaves, wildfires, and record-breaking temperatures worldwide. UN Sec Antonio Guterres calls for urgent climate action.

Harnur Watta
Sep 06, 2023 17:59 IST
Image credits: The Economic Times

Image credits: The Economic Times

In a grim announcement on Wednesday, the European Union's climate monitor revealed that 2023 is on track to become the hottest year in recorded human history. The report, issued by the Copernicus Climate Change Service (C3S), stated that global temperatures during the Northern Hemisphere summer have reached alarming heights, breaking previous records. 

The soaring temperatures have led to a cascade of heatwaves, droughts, and wildfires, affecting regions across Asia, Africa, Europe, and North America. 

The consequences have been severe, impacting economies, ecosystems, and human health.

Record-Breaking Temperatures


The report from the C3S indicates that the average global temperature during the months of June, July, and August reached 16.77 degrees Celsius (62.19 degrees Fahrenheit), surpassing the previous record set in 2019, which was 16.48 degrees Celsius. 

Samantha Burgess, Deputy Director of C3S, stated that these three months mark the warmest period in approximately 120,000 years, making it an unparalleled event in human history.

August 2023 emerged as the hottest August ever recorded, even surpassing all other months except July of the same year. 


The increasing temperatures have prompted concerns and declarations from global leaders.

Global Implications

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres issued a stark warning, declaring, "Climate breakdown has begun." 


He emphasised that scientists have long predicted the devastating consequences of fossil fuel consumption, and the world is now witnessing the rapid acceleration of extreme weather events on a global scale. 

These events are affecting every corner of the planet, creating a dire need for immediate action.

The report highlighted that record-high global sea surface temperatures played a pivotal role in intensifying the summer heat. 


Marine heatwaves affected regions including the North Atlantic and the Mediterranean Sea. 

Samantha Burgess noted that considering the excess heat in surface oceans, there's a high probability that 2023 will be the warmest year on record if the Northern Hemisphere experiences a "normal" winter.

Oceans' Heat Absorption and Consequences


Scientists have noted that oceans have absorbed 90 percent of the excess heat generated by human activities since the industrial age began. 

This continual heat absorption, coupled with the accumulation of greenhouse gases in Earth's atmosphere from activities like burning oil, gas, and coal, has dire consequences. 

The report highlighted that, excluding the polar regions, global average sea surface temperatures surpassed the previous record set in March 2016 daily from July 31 to August 31. 


This ongoing warming has severe implications, including the disruption of fragile ecosystems and a reduction in the oceans' ability to absorb carbon dioxide (CO2).

The C3S report also noted that Antarctic sea ice remained at a record low for the time of year, with a monthly value 12 percent below the average. 

This anomaly is "by far the largest negative anomaly for August since satellite observations began" in the 1970s.

El Nino and Future Projections

The report pointed out that the El Nino weather phenomenon, which warms waters in the southern Pacific and beyond, has recently begun. 

Scientists anticipate that the worst effects of this El Nino will be felt at the end of 2023 and into the next year, further exacerbating global temperatures.

In 2015, at the Paris Climate Summit, countries agreed to limit global temperature increases to "well below" 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels, with an aspirational target of 1.5 degrees Celsius. 

However, the C3S report suggests that countries are falling significantly short of meeting these commitments. 

A forthcoming report by UN experts is expected to assess the progress made by the world in achieving these goals and will inform leaders ahead of a high-stakes climate summit in Dubai starting on November 30.

The C3S report, based on extensive computer-generated analyses and a wealth of data sources, paints a grim picture of the current state of global temperatures and the climate crisis. 

As temperatures continue to rise, leaders and nations are urged to take immediate and drastic action to curb the devastating effects of climate change and prevent further catastrophic events.

Suggested Reading: Climate Change Education Matters: How Are Teachers Navigating It?


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