Barring some sort of massive global deep freeze late in the year, it was increasingly obvious by November that 2023 was going to be the hottest year ever recorded. After analyzing data that showed the world saw its warmest ever November, experts around the world made the call early in December.
According to the European Union’s Copernicus Climate Change Service, from January to November 2023, global average temperatures were the highest on record – 1.46 degrees Celsius or 2.6 degrees Fahrenheit above the pre-industrial average. Given that the Paris Climate Accord has the goal of keeping warming below 1.5 degrees Celsius, 2023 has been an alarmingly hot year.
November itself was 1.75 degrees warmer than the pre-industrial average. The average surface air temperature for the planet was 14.22 degrees Celsius or about 57.6 degrees Fahrenheit. Now 57 degrees doesn’t sound all that warm, but we are not accustomed to thinking in terms of the average temperature for the entire planet. Keep in mind that the planetary average includes Antarctica and the polar north. The year as a whole had six record-breaking months and two record-breaking seasons.
There is no reason to hope that the warming in 2023 was an anomalous occurrence and that 2024 is apt to be cooler. With an El Niño in place in the Pacific, the new year might even be warmer than the previous one. With continued warming, extreme weather events are likely to become even more frequent and intense, exacerbating the damage and loss of life from droughts, floods, hurricanes, and wildfires.
Photo, posted June 7, 2012, courtesy of NASA/Kathryn Hansen via Flickr.