The Copernicus Climate Change Service (C3S), the Earth Observation component of the European Union, has officially declared 2023 as the hottest year on record, marking a significant escalation in global temperatures.
The report reveals that the global average temperature in 2023 reached 14.98°C, surpassing the previous record set in 2016 by a substantial margin of 0.17°C. The unprecedented warmth is attributed to multiple factors, including heightened greenhouse gas concentrations and the influence of El Niño in the Pacific Ocean.
In a press release, Samantha Burgess, deputy director of C3S, describes 2023 as an "exceptional year", breaking climate records. Notably, all days in 2023 were over 1°C warmer than the pre-industrial period, with temperatures likely exceeding any period in at least the last 100,000 years.
Carlo Buontempo, director of C3S, emphasised the “profound consequences of these findings for the Paris Agreement.” The extremes witnessed in recent months provide a stark testimony to the growing distance from the climate in which human civilisation developed.
The findings also raise concerns about the impact on the UN's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) target of limiting the temperature increase to 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels. Exceeding this threshold could lead to severe climate change impacts, including more frequent and intense droughts, heatwaves, and rainfall.
The report notes that at one point in 2023, the daily global temperature average briefly surpassed pre-industrial levels by more than 2°C with June 2023 witnessing temperature anomalies consistently exceeding the 1.5°C threshold for several days.
December 2023 was globally the warmest December on record, with an average temperature of 13.51°C, 0.85°C above the 1991-2020 average. Earth's sea surface temperatures remained persistently high, reaching record levels from April to December 2023, contributing to marine heatwaves across various regions. The continent of Europe experienced its second-warmest year in 2023, with temperatures 0.17°C cooler than 2020.