The UN weather agency and its partners have said the global average temperature for July 2023 was the highest on record and likely for at least 120,000 years.
“The global average temperature for July 2023 is confirmed to be the highest on record for any month,” said Samantha Burgess, Deputy Director at the European Commission’s Copernicus Climate Change Service.
Briefing journalists in Geneva on Tuesday, Burgess noted that July had been marked by heatwaves “in multiple regions around the world”.
Based on data analysis known as proxy records, which include cave deposits, calcifying organisms, coral and shells,
the Copernicus scientist added that it “has not been this warm for the last 120,000 years”.
Records were also broken for global sea surface temperatures, after "unusually high" temperatures this April that led to the ocean surface warming in July to some 0.51C above the 1991-2020 average.
From the UN World Meteorological Organization (WMO), Chris Hewitt, Director of Climate Services, pointed to the agency’s prediction in May that there was “98 percent likelihood” that one of the next five years will be one of the warmest on record. He also reiterated that while there was a 66 percent chance that the 1.5C threshold above the pre-industrial value will be exceeded in this timeframe, this will likely be a “temporary” change.
WMO’s Hewitt said that it was also important to note that 2015 to 2022 were the “eight warmest years” according to readings going back at least 170 years, despite prevailing La Niña conditions in the Pacific ocean that “tend to reign in the global average temperature and suppress them slightly”.
The WMO added that “the long-term warming trend is driven by continued increases in concentrations of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere” which have all reached record observed highs.
“The warmest year on record so far was 2016 and that particular year was associated with a very strong El Niño event on top of the long-term warming of the climate system,” he explained.