The hottest summer since the beginning of human history was this year, according to the European Copernicus observatory, with ofscientists to sound the alarm.
The past three months have seen the highest average temperatures ever recorded, the observatory said, which believes 2023 will likely be the hottest year on record.
Heat waves, droughts, floods and fires they hit Asia, Europe, North America during this period in dramatic or unprecedented proportions, with a high cost in lives and damage to economies and the environment.
"Climate collapse has begun"
Back-to-back mid-winter heat records were also broken in the southern hemisphere.
"The June-July-August period", which corresponds to summer in the Northern Hemisphere, where most of the world's population also lives, "was by far the warmest ever recorded in the world, with an average global temperature of 16,77°C" , Copernicus announced.
It corresponds to an increase of 0,66°C compared to the average temperatures of the period 1991-2020, which was characterized by the rise in average temperatures due to climate change caused by human activities. Temperatures were much warmer - by two-thirds - than the previous record set in 2019.
"The climate collapse has begun," declared UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres in a statement.
July was the warmest month ever recorded, August 2023 is the second warmest, the Copernicus observatory clarifies.
And at the level of the first eight months of the year, the global average temperature is only 0,01°C below 2016, the warmest year on record.
But this record is no longer hanging by a thread, given the forecasts and the dynamic return to the Pacific Ocean of the El Niño climate phenomenon, which is synonymous with additional warming.
And "given the extreme rise in surface ocean temperatures, it is likely that 2023 will be the warmest year on record," said Samantha Burgess, deputy director of Copernicus' climate change service.
The Copernicus database goes back to 1940, but there is the possibility of comparison with the climate of past millennia on the planet, as recorded based on the seasonal cycle of tree trunk growth and ice core samples (carrots) extracted from the glaciers to capture the climate evolution before the start of the measurements. This composite picture was presented in the latest report of UN climate experts (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change Change, IPCC, Giec).
On this basis, the last three months we have experienced are the warmest in 120.000 years, that is, since the beginning of human history," says Samantha Burgess.
At unprecedented levels the average temperature of the surface of the seas
Despite three consecutive years of La Niña (the inverse of El Niño), which partially masked global warming, the years 2015-2022 were already the warmest on record.
The warming of the planet's seas, which continue to absorb 90% of the excess heat caused by human activity since the beginning of the industrial age, plays an important role in the phenomenon.
Since April, the average sea surface temperature has been trending towards unprecedented levels of high temperatures.
"From July 31 to August 31, every day exceeded the previous record of March 2016," the European Observatory notes, reaching the symbolic limit of 21°C, significantly higher than any record ever recorded.
"Warming oceans cause the atmosphere to warm and increase humidity, which causes heavier rainfall and increases the energy available for tropical cyclones," points out Samantha Burgess.
Global warming also affects biodiversity: "it reduces nutrients and oxygen in the oceans", which threatens the life of fauna and flora, says the Copernicus scientist, referring to coral bleaching, the proliferation of harmful algae or the potential collapse of cycles respproductionof species.
"Temperatures will continue to rise as long as we don't turn off the tap on emissions" from burning coal, oil and natural gas, reminds Samantha Burgess three months before COP28 in Dubai.
Purpose of this United Nations Climate Conference is to get humanity back on track with the Paris Agreement: limiting the increase in temperature to below +2°C and, if possible, to +1,5°C compared to the pre-industrial era . A fierce battle for the end of fossil fuels is expected to unfold in Dubai.