the global average temperature of 2023 is the highest since the pre-industrial period

Surface air temperature anomaly from November 2022 to October 2023 in relation to the 1991-2020 average. Data source: ERA5. Credit: Copernicus Climate Change Service/ECMWF.
Amanda Souza Amanda Souza 08/11/2023 17:20 7 min

The month of October 2023 was the hottest ever recorded on planet Earth according to information from the European Union’s Copernicus Programme, which is managed by the European Center for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts. The average air temperature at the surface reached 15.3°Cbeing 0.85°C above the October average in relation to the 1991-2020 climatology.

At this temperature, the globe reached 0.4°C above the temperature of the previous hottest October, in 2019. In fact, the planet has been getting hotter and hotter since June 2023, as October’s temperature anomaly was the second highest of all months, behind September 2023, which was behind August, July and June. With an El Niño in effect and other oceans also warm, will the month of November continue to break records?

October as a whole was 1.7°C warmer than an estimate of the average made for the period 1850-1900, that is, the pre-industrial reference period. The planet has reached more than 1.5°C of average temperature rise, estimated to be reached only in 2050.

Copernicus highlights that from January to October this year, the planet’s average temperature was the highest since the pre-industrial periodthe anomaly reached 1.43°C, this makes 2023 the hottest in history with 0.1°C difference to the previous record achieved during the same 10-month period in 2016.

High temperatures in the air and oceans

El Niño is present with conditions still evolving in the Equatorial Pacific, which favors high temperatures not only in the oceans but also in the atmosphere. In general, in this year 2023, air temperatures were above average in much of the oceans, and this has generated severe impactssuch as higher temperatures in much of Antarctica, leaving sea ice coverage well below normal.

Global mean temperature and European mean surface air temperature anomalies relative to 1991-2020 for each month of October from 1979 to 2023. Data source: ERA5. Credit: Copernicus Climate Change Service/ECMWF.

In terms of comparison, the average annual temperature (from January to October), considering temperatures from the same periods in previous years, the planet’s average is the highest ever recorded, with an anomaly of 0.55°C. There is a comparison with the year 2016, which until then had been the hottest in history, however, what draws attention is the continuity of the months (November and December) that were relatively colder, something that should not happen in 2023 should also end hotter due to the El Niño that continues.

Average global mean surface air temperature anomalies to date (January-October) relative to 1991–2020, for each year from 1979 to 2023. Data: ERA5. Credit: C3S/ECMWF.

If the planet continues to heat upthe estimated mean global temperatures for November and December 2023 are in the range 0.3-0.7°C above 1991-2020 levels, or equivalent to anomalies of 1.39-1.46°C above from the period 1850-1900.

Progression of sea surface temperatures

Researchers collected data that discussed the record progression of sea surface temperatures (SST) from January to the end of August, which already pointed to an average SST over extrapolated waters that even began its usual seasonal decrease, but still remained substantially higher for this time of year compared to any other previous year.

New NCAR computer model predicts a Super El Niño for next summer

New NCAR computer model predicts a Super El Niño for next summer

Speaking of ocean waters, the average temperature of October 2023, at 20.79°C, was by far the highest ever recorded in historywhich broke the record set in October 2015 with 20.52°C, the year of a super El Niño.

Average daily sea surface temperature (°C) over the global ocean extrapolate (60°S–60°N) for 2015 (blue), 2016 (orange), 2022 (yellow), and 2023 (black line). All other years between 1979 and 2021 are shown with gray lines. Average conditions for 1991-2020 are shown by the dashed gray line. Data source: ERA5. Credit: Copernicus Climate Change Service/ECMWF.

In fact, even if the current El Niño is not as strong as that of 2015 and 1997, it is a fact that the phenomenon has contributed to the heat of 2023, and in addition, other warmer oceans this year also contributed to the new record.

Analysis of the last 12 months on the planet

In summary, the analysis of temperatures over the last 12 months reached the following consensus:

  • It was above the 1991-2020 average across most of the globe;
  • It was above average across most of Europe;
  • It was above average in the south and west of South America;
  • It was above average across most of North America, Greenland, Africa, western and eastern Asia, and eastern Antarctica;
  • It was well above average in some seas around Antarctica and in the European sector of the Arctic;
  • It was well above average across much of the North Pacific, part of the South Pacific, the Atlantic and the southwest Indian Ocean;
  • It was above average in the Eastern Equatorial Pacific;

The article is in Portuguese

Tags: global average temperature highest preindustrial period



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