Copernicus report: 2023 on track to become warmest year on record

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(NEW YORK) — The year 2023 is already on track to be the warmest year on record, according to Copernicus, Europe’s climate change service.

The month of September saw several unprecedented temperature anomalies around the world, following the hottest summer ever recorded, according to the monthly climate report released by Copernicus on Wednesday, which analyzes billions of measurements from satellites, ships, aircraft and weather stations around the world to highlight changes observed in global surface air temperature, sea ice cover and hydrological variables.

Several records were broken “by an extraordinary amount” in September due to never-before-seen high temperatures for that time of year, Samantha Burgess, deputy director of the Copernicus Climate Change Service, said in a statement. The month as a whole was around 1.75 degrees Celsius (3.2 Fahrenheit) warmer than the September average for 1850 to 1900, the preindustrial reference period, according to the report.

Now, 2023 is expected to round out the year as the warmest on record globally — clocking in at about 1.4 C above pre-industrial levels, Burgess said.

The number is dangerously close to the goal to limit global warming to 1.5 C (2.7 F) above pre-industrial levels set in the Paris Agreement.

Average global surface air temperatures in September 2023 measured at 16.38 C, about 61.48 F, nearly 1 degree Celsius above the 1991 to 2020 average for September and beating the previous record, set in 2020, by .5 degrees Celsius, according to Copernicus.

The global temperature during September 2023 featured the largest deviation from the average, not just for the month of September, but for any month in the dataset going back to 1940, the researchers said.

Among the continents that experienced warmer-than-usual conditions in September was Europe, which beat its previous record by 1.1 degrees Celsius.

Antarctic sea ice extent also remained at a record low level during the month of September. Both the daily and monthly extents reached their lowest annual maxima in the satellite record in September, with the monthly extent 9% below average, according to the report.

Greenhouse gas emissions and El Niño conditions over the equatorial eastern Pacific are likely both playing a role in reaching new global temperature records, models show.

With El Niño conditions forecast to strengthen through the end of the year, the annual temperature anomaly for 2023 could follow trends set in Summer 2023 and September 2023, breaking the previous record by a large margin.

Globally, 2023 has already featured the hottest summer on record, multiple hottest months on record, including July and August, and the hottest day recorded on Earth for several days in a row at the beginning of July.

The last time Earth recorded a colder-than-average year was in 1976.

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