This summer was officially the hottest on RECORD, study confirms

This summer was officially the hottest on RECORD: Global temperatures were 0.66°C above average – as experts warn ‘climate breakdown has begun’

  • Despite the patchy UK weather, globally the summer is the hottest on record
  • Last month was also the hottest August on record and the second-hottest month

Despite a patchy few months of weather in Britain, summer 2023 has been the hottest on record globally, according to the EU’s Copernicus climate service

Air temperatures this summer were 1.18°F (0.66°C) above average, hitting a global average of 62.18°F (16.77°C) – the highest since records began in 1940. 

Copernicus also announced that last month was the warmest August on record globally, and warmer than all other months except July 2023. 

This summer has seen extreme weather events such as heatwaves in Europe, North America and Asia and wildfires in Canada and Greece.

Experts point to greenhouse gas emissions as the cause of hotter temperatures both in the atmosphere and the oceans – and urge leaders to curb fossil fuel emissions.

Air temperatures this summer were 1.18°F (0.66°C) above average, hitting a global average of 62.18°F (16.77°C) – the highest since records began in 1940.  Graph ranks Earth’s hottest summers on record (the top five at the far right are 2023, 2019, 2016, 2022 and 2020)

Earth sweltered through the hottest summer ever as record heat in August capped a brutal, deadly three months in northern hemisphere. Pictured, people jump into the sea in Istanbul to keep cool, August 22, 2023

Five hottest summers on record – ranked 

2023: 62.18°F (16.77°C)

2019: 61.66°F (16.48°C)

2016: 61.61°F (16.45°C)

2022: 61.59°F (16.44°C)

2020: 61.57°F (16.43°C)

2021: 61.50°F (16.39°C)

2017: 61.44°F (16.36°C)

2018: 61.43°F (16.35°C)

2015: 61.34°F (16.30°C)

1998: 61.26°F (16.26°C)

(Figures refer to average temperatures globally for each year)

The Copernicus climate change service (C3S) temperature readings are based on a variety of platforms and instruments, from weather stations to weather balloons and satellites. 

And they refer to the global average temperature for the month – so lower than a single typically ‘hot’ temperature reading. 

‘What we are observing, not only new extremes but the persistence of these record-breaking conditions, and the impacts these have on both people and planet, are a clear consequence of the warming of the climate system,’ C3S director Carlo Buontempo said.

In a grave warning, United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said ‘climate breakdown has begun’. 

‘The dog days of summer are not just barking, they are biting,’ he said in a statement. 

According to the new CS3 data, the summer period – defined by as the months of June, July and August – was the warmest on record globally this year by a ‘large margin’.

The second-hottest summer globally was in 2019, but the average temperature reading for the period was 61.66°F (16.48°C) – substantially less than this summer 62.18°F (16.77°C). 

With the exception of one year (1998), the 10 hottest summers on record globally were in the last decade. 

France had to issue a ‘red alert’ for four southern regions on August 21 amid a spell of excessively hot weather, especially in the Rhone valley, France. Pictured, Lyon after sunrise

A man sunbathes in high temperatures in Marseille, southern France, August 19, 2023. UN weather agency says Earth sweltered through the hottest summer ever as record heat in August capped a brutal, deadly three months in northern hemisphere

August 2023 was the warmest August on record globally, with an average global temperature of 62.27°F (16.82°C). This figure is 0.71°C warmer than the 1991-2020 average for August, and 0.31°C warmer than the previous warmest August in 2016. This graph shows globally averaged surface air temperature anomalies relative to 1991-2020 for each August from 1940 to 2023

READ MORE July was the hottest month ever recorded on Earth

In July 2023, the average temperature was 62.51°F (16.95°C)

Looking solely at Europe, the average temperature for summer 2023 was 67.33°F (19.63°C), which was the fifth warmest for the summer season and 1.49°F (0.83°C) above the average. 

CS3 has also revealed that August 2023 was the warmest August on record globally with an average global temperature of 62.27°F (16.82°C). 

This figure is 1.27°F (0.71°C) warmer than the 1991-2020 average for August, and 0.55°F (0.31°C) warmer than the previous warmest August in 2016. 

What’s more, August 2023 was warmer than any other month on record apart from the month that preceded it. 

July 2023 was recently confirmed by CS3 as the hottest month ever, with a global average temperature of 62.51°F (16.95°C). 

CS3’s main metric for measuring how hot it is, is the temperature of the air, but it also keeps track of temperatures of the world’s oceans. 

Namely it looks at sea surface temperature – how hot the water is close to the ocean’s surface. 

Unfortunately, it also registered new records here for summer 2023 as well, with ‘record-breaking’ sea surface temperature anomalies. 

August had the highest global monthly average sea surface temperature on record, at 69.76°F (20.98°C), which was well above average for August.

In the North Atlantic specifically, the sea surface temperature hit a new record of 77.34°F (25.19°C) on August 31, breaking the previous daily record of 76.65F (24.81°C), set in September 2022. 

Daily global sea surface temperature (°C) averaged for each year from 1 January 1979 to 31 August 2023. The years 2023 and 2016 are shown with thick lines shaded in bright red and dark red, respectively. Other years are shown with thin lines and shaded according to the decade, from blue (1970s/80s) to brick red (2020s)

A man cools off at a temporary misting station deployed by the city in the Downtown Eastside due to a heat wave, in Vancouver, British Columbia, August 16, 2023

READ MORE World’s oceans hit their hottest EVER temperatures 

Coral bleaching (seen here in the Great Barrier Reef) is an effect of water temperatures getting higher 

CS3 already announced average sea temperatures hit 69.72°F (20.96°C) on July 31, beating a record of 69.71°F (20.95°C) set in March 2016. 

Average sea temperatures have been climbing steadily since the 1970s due to greenhouse gases trapping more heat and making the water feel ‘like a bath’, according to one expert. 

Scientists blame ever warming human-caused climate change from the burning of fossil fuels – namely coal, oil and natural gas – for the new CS3 data. 

Dr Friederike Otto, a lecturer in climate science at Imperial College London, said: ‘Breaking heat records has become the norm in 2023. 

‘Global warming continues because we have not stopped burning fossil fuels. It is that simple.

‘As long as we burn fossil fuels, these events will become more and more intense, providing ever greater barriers to adaptation.’

Professor Mark Maslin, professor of climatology at University College London, added: ‘2023 is the year that climate records were not just broken but smashed.

‘With record heat-waves in Europe, America and China, record ocean temperature and extreme melting of Antarctic sea ice we are now feeling the full impacts of climate change. 

‘Extreme weather events are now common and getting worse every year – this is a wake up call to international leaders that we must rapidly reduce carbon emissions now.’

Israelis and Palestinians bathe in a cool natural spring in the Judean Desert, West Bank on August 1 this year

A man uses a small fan to cool off from the intense heat at Passeio Marítimo in Algés, just outside Lisbon, Portugal, August 6, 2023

Brits, meanwhile, have been battered by cold air and downpours for much of 2023’s summer season. Pictured, holidaymakers on the beach in Weymouth, Dorset on July 31, 2023

Brits may find the new heat records hard to believe as the country has been hit by cold air and rain through much of the summer, despite heatwaves around mainland Europe (although the last few days have seen a late burst of summer heat). 

This July was the sixth wettest British July on record, Met Office figures recently revealed, despite June being the hottest British June on record. 

July 2023 contrasted with July last year, which saw the UK’s first red extreme heat warning to be issued in the country, indicating ‘a risk to life’. 

In 2022, UK temperatures broke the 104°F (40°C) mark for the first time, hitting a new record of 104.5°F (40.3°C) on July 19 at Coningsby in Lincolnshire. 

Climate experts are now urging the public to bear in mind that global temperatures are rising, even if local temperatures don’t always seem to be. 

Forget the 9-5! Brits might have to work earlier (and ditch the suit and tie) to cope with the ‘uncomfortable’ heat caused by climate change, experts warn 

Brits may need to work much earlier in the day to cope with ‘uncomfortable’ heat brought on by climate change, a new study claims. 

University of Oxford experts found the UK is one of the European countries that will have to adapt the most to cope with sweltering temperatures. 

Following the lead of some workplaces in southern European countries such as Spain, the British working day could start at 6am and finish at about 2pm. 

The scientists think changes to our the working hours would be especially beneficial for people to beat the heat if they work outdoors or in ‘greenhouse’ style buildings that are badly designed to reflect sunlight. 

Brits could also follow the lead of the Japanese by ditching the suit and tie and being allowed to dress more casually during hotter spells.

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