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2023 likely to be hottest year in human history – EU climate monitor

2023 is on track to become the hottest year ever recorded in human history with temperatures during the Northern Hemisphere summer reaching levels that are unprecedented, the European Union’s (EU) climate monitoring agency, announced on Wednesday this week. In a report, the EU’s Copernicus Climate Change Service (C3S) said the average global temperature in June, July, and August this year was 16.77 degrees Celsius (62.19 degrees Fahrenheit), way above the previous 2019 record of 16.48C.

“The three months we’ve just experienced are the warmest in approximately 120,000 years, essentially spanning human history.” Samantha Burgess, the Deputy Director of C3S, told the AFP news service. August 2023 also marked the hottest August ever recorded, surpassing all other months except for July 2023.

On July 6, the planet experienced its hottest day ever, with the global average temperature reaching 17.2 degrees Celsius. According to the report, there have been heatwaves, droughts, and wildfires in Asia, Africa, Europe, and North America over the last three months, with dramatic impact on economies, ecosystems, and human health.

And the temperatures are likely to get higher.

The World Meteorological Organization (WMO) said climate change is playing a major part, pointing out that for the first time ever global temperatures are more likely than not to move more than 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels in the next five years. Another major factor is the anticipated return of the El Niño weather phenomenon. The WMO says this combination is set to push global temperatures to a new record in the next five years, while climate scientists from a range of other organizations say that this could happen as soon as this year or 2024.

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has sounded the alarm that “Climate breakdown has begun.”

“Scientists have long warned what our fossil fuel addiction will unleash,” he was quoted by the AFP as saying.

“Our climate is imploding faster than we can cope, with extreme weather events hitting every corner of the planet.”

The C3S reported that record-high global sea surface temperatures played a major role in stoking heat throughout the summer, with marine heat waves hitting the North Atlantic and the Mediterranean Sea.

“Looking at the additional heat we have in the surface ocean, the probability is that 2023 will end up being the warmest year on record,” Burgess said.

The report also pointed to the fact that the average global temperature through the first eight months of 2023 is the second-warmest on record, only 0.01C below the benchmark 2016 level.

If the Northern Hemisphere has a “normal” winter, “we can almost virtually say that 2023 will be the warmest year that humanity has experienced,” Burgess said.

Gutteres is calling for urgent action to be taken in light of the unprecedented high temperatures.

“Surging temperatures demand a surge in action. Leaders must turn up the heat now for climate solutions,” he said.