The year 2023 was the hottest on Earth since 1850when records began.
This has been revealed by Copernicus Climate Change Service (C3S), the Earth observation program of the European space programme.
The anomalous and “unprecedented” temperatures of the second half of the year have triggered global thermometers and the average surface air temperature in 2023 reached 14.98 ºCsurpassing that of 2016 by 0.17 ºC, which until now held the record for the warmest year.
According to the institution, based in Bonn (Germany), It also stood at 0.60 ºC above the average levels of the last three decades and 1.48ºC above pre-industrial reference levelsbetween 1850 and 1900.
The year 2023 “was most likely the warmest” in history and “possibly one of the warmest in the last 100,000 years“, stated Carlo Buontempo, the director of C3S, during a press conference.
“Basically this means that our cities, roads, monuments, farms, all human activities, in general, have never had to deal with such a warm climate,” he added.
Last year was also the first in which, each day, separately, The average temperature exceeded pre-industrial levels by 1 ºCwhile almost half of the days exceeded the “critical limit” of 1.5 ºC, compared to 20% in 2016.
A “disastrous” precedent
This does not mean that the limits of the Paris Agreement have been exceeded, Copernicus has clarified, since these refer to temperature excesses during periods of at least 20 yearsbut nevertheless sets a “dismal precedent.”
Two days in November, for the first time, exceeded the corresponding pre-industrial levels by more than 2 ºC.
Several negative records
The negative records do not end here, since The extent of the Antarctic sea ice sheet broke historic lows at a daily and monthly level in February 2023, while for eight months of the year it remained at exceptionally low levels.
At the same time, The concentration of carbon dioxide (CO2) and methane in the atmosphere were the highest ever measureds, with a record annual estimate of 419 and 1902 parts per million (ppm) respectively, 2.4 and 11 ppm more than the previous year.
Global average sea surface temperatures were also unusually high, reaching record levels for the period from April to December, and were associated with marine heat waves in areas of the Mediterranean, the Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean, the Indian Ocean and the North Pacific, as well as much of the North Atlantic.
The main factor for this was the increase in the concentration of greenhouse gases, but the climate phenomenon known as The boywhich began last July.
The second warmest year on record in Europe
By region, average air temperatures broke or came close to a record in much of all ocean basins and from all continents except Australia.
As explained by researcher Francesca Guglielmo, the greatest contribution to the anomalies in air temperature in the periods from May to August and from September to December came from the tropical ocean fringe.
In Europe, The year 2023 was the second warmest ever recorded0.17 ºC below the first, 2022, and 1.02 ºC above the average of the last three decades, while the month of September was the hottest ever measured on the continent.
There are signs that areas bordering the Mediterranean, in particular, are warming more rapidly than other terrestrial regions, said C3S deputy director Samantha Burgess, referring to the high temperatures recorded throughout the year in parts of Spain. , France and parts of Eastern Europe.
Beyond the impact of El Niño, according to Buontempo the main factor behind the anomalies detected globally is the increase in the concentration of greenhouse gases due to human use of fossil fuels.
If this process cannot be reversed, “there is no reason to expect different results” in the future, warned the director of C3S, who warned that in that case, “in a few years 2023, which broke a record, will probably be remembered as “a cool year”