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Hottest Summer on Record: The World’s Recent Unprecedented Heatwave


Sep 6, 2023

Scientists have reported that this summer has been the hottest on record, with blistering heat waves baking parts of the world. Data from the European Union’s Copernicus Climate Change Service shows that the period from June to August was the warmest on record since 1940. The global average temperature for this summer was 16.77 degrees Celsius, beating the previous record set in August 2019 by nearly 0.3 degrees Celsius. This summer has seen record-breaking heat waves and unprecedented ocean temperatures, confirming what many had believed to be inevitable.

The Northern Hemisphere experienced a searingly hot summer, with the hottest June and July on record. August also set a new record, being the warmest month other than July this year. The global average temperature for August was 16.82 degrees Celsius, 0.31 degrees warmer than the previous record set in 2016. United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres referred to this summer as the hottest on record and stated that climate breakdown has begun. Both July and August were estimated to be 1.5 degrees warmer than pre-industrial levels, a threshold that scientists have warned must not be breached to prevent the most catastrophic impacts of climate change.

While scientists focus on long-term global temperature rises, these temporary breaches provide a preview of what future summers may look like with 1.5 degrees of warming. The Northern Hemisphere experienced extreme heat waves, fueling devastating wildfires and disrupting daily lives. The Southern Hemisphere also experienced abnormally warm winters in countries like Australia and several South American countries. Global average ocean temperatures have been exceptionally high, strengthening major hurricanes and typhoons. Copernicus data shows that every day from the end of July to the end of August, ocean temperatures exceeded the previous record set in 2016.

It remains unclear if this year will become the warmest on record, but it is likely to come extremely close. With four months remaining, 2023 currently ranks as the second warmest year on record, only 0.01 degrees Celsius below 2016. Scientists predict that next year will be even hotter due to the arrival of El Niño, a natural climate fluctuation that brings warmer sea-surface temperatures and influences weather patterns. Samantha Burgess, deputy director of Copernicus, warns that if the world continues to burn planet-heating fossil fuels, climate records and extreme weather events will only become more intense and frequent.

By Editor

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