The Copernicus Climate Change Service (C3S) recently revealed its findings for 2023, indicating that the year has clinched the title of the hottest on record. The report, based on extensive monitoring and analysis, underscores the urgency of climate action as global temperatures push the boundaries set by the Paris Agreement.
Global Surface Air Temperature Soars
In a year that saw environmental records tumble, 2023’s global average temperature of 14.98°C surpassed the previous highest annual value in 2016 by 0.17°C. Notably, it was 0.60°C warmer than the 1991-2020 average and a staggering 1.48°C warmer than the pre-industrial level of 1850-1900. The Copernicus report suggests that a 12-month period ending in January or February 2024 is likely to exceed the 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels. Alarmingly, every day in 2023 exceeded 1°C above the pre-industrial level, with close to 50% of days surpassing 1.5°C and two days in November exceeding 2°C.
Ocean Surface Temperatures and El Niño’s Impact
Ocean surface temperatures played a pivotal role in the global heatwave, remaining persistently high throughout 2023. This was particularly evident in regions like the Mediterranean, Gulf of Mexico, Caribbean, Indian Ocean, and North Pacific. The report highlights the influence of the El Niño Southern Oscillation (ENSO), transitioning from La Niña in spring to El Niño in summer. The onset of El Niño in July strengthened throughout the year, contributing to unprecedented sea surface temperatures globally.
European Climate Trends
Europe experienced its second-warmest year in 2023, just 0.17°C cooler than the record-breaking 2020. Notable features include the warmest September, the second-warmest winter, and the fifth-warmest summer on record. Autumn closely followed as the second-warmest, a mere 0.03°C cooler than in 2020.
Record Low Antarctic Sea Ice and Elevated Greenhouse Gas Levels
Antarctic sea ice reached record lows in eight months of 2023, while Arctic sea ice ranked among the four lowest at its annual peak in March. The report emphasizes the continual rise of greenhouse gas concentrations, with carbon dioxide and methane reaching record levels in 2023, standing at 419 ppm and 1902 ppb, respectively.
Climate Action Imperative
Mauro Facchini, Head of Earth Observation at the European Commission, underscores the challenge ahead, aligning with the EU’s emission reduction goals. Samantha Burgess, Deputy Director of the Copernicus Climate Change Service, states that “2023 was an exceptional year with climate records tumbling like dominoes,” emphasizing the critical need for decisive climate action. Carlo Buontempo, Director of the Copernicus Climate Change Service, concludes by highlighting the profound consequences of observed extremes, urging urgent decarbonization and proactive climate risk management. The Copernicus report paints a stark picture of climate change impacts, emphasizing the pressing need for global cooperation and bold measures to curb further environmental degradation.
For access to the complete Copernicus report and data, visit Copernicus Climate Change Service.