Climate 2023, record temperatures

Copernicus Climate Change Service presents data from Global Climate Highlights 2023 report

Global temperatures have reached exceptionally high levels in 2023 which is confirmed as the warmest calendar year in recorded data since 1850: in detail, the global average temperature was 14.98°C, 0.17°C more than 2016 (previous warmest year). The past year was 0.60°C warmer than the average for the period between 1991 and 2020 and by 1.48°C compared to the pre-industrial level of 1850-1900 and a 12-month period ending in January or February 2024 is likely to exceed pre-industrial levels by 1.5°C.

The Copernicus Climate Change Service (C3S), implemented by the European Center for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts on behalf of the European Commission with EU funding, presents data from the Global Climate Highlights 2023 report, based primarily on the Era5 reanalysis dataset.

Record numbers

In 2023, for the first time in history, every day of a year exceeded the pre-industrial level of the period between 1850 and 1900 by 1°C – reads the report – Almost 50% of days were 1.5°C warmer than the level between 1850 and 1900 and two days in November were, for the first time, 2°C warmer. Every month from June to December 2023 was warmer than the corresponding month the previous year; July and August 2023 were the two hottest months on record; the boreal summer (June-August) was the hottest season on record. December 2023 was the warmest December on record globally, with an average temperature of 13.51°C, 0.85°C above the 1991 to 2020 average and 1.78°C above the level between between 1850 and 1900 for the same month. 2023 was also exceptional for Antarctic sea ice: in 8 months it reached record minimum extensions for the corresponding period of the year. Both daily and monthly extensions reached historic lows in February 2023.

“We knew, thanks to the work of the Copernicus program throughout 2023, that today we would not receive good news – says Mauro Facchini, Head of Earth Observation at the Directorate General for Defense Industry and Space of the European Commission – But the annual data presented here provides further evidence of the growing impact of climate change. The European Union, in line with the best available science, has agreed to a 55% emissions reduction by 2030, today only 6 years away. The challenge is clear. The Copernicus Programme, supported by the European Commission, is one of the best tools available to guide our climate actions, keep us in line with the goals of the Paris Agreement and accelerate the green transition.”

For Samantha Burgess, deputy director of the Copernicus Climate Change Service (C3S), “2023 was an exceptional year, in which climate records fell like dominoes. Not only is 2023 the warmest year on record, but it is also the first year with all days 1°C warmer than pre-industrial times. Temperatures in 2023 will likely exceed those of any period in the past 100,000 years.”

According to the report, numerous extreme events have been recorded around the world, including heat waves, floods, droughts and fires. “The extreme events we have observed in recent months dramatically demonstrate how far we are from the climate in which our civilization developed. This has profound consequences for the Paris Agreement and for all human endeavors. If we want to successfully manage our portfolio of climate risks, we must urgently decarbonise our economy, using climate data and knowledge to prepare for the future”, remarks Carlo Buontempo, director of the Copernicus Climate Change Service (Copernicus Climate Change Service – C3S).