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January 16, 2024

2023 Officially World's Hottest Year on Record

2023 has been officially declared the hottest year on record – marking a sombre milestone of human-induced climate change boosted by the El Niño event.

According to the European Union’s climate service, the average global temperature in 2023 was circa 1.48 degrees Celsius higher than the pre-industrial era average – with almost daily records being set since July. Additionally, sea surface temperatures also reached unprecedented levels. 

The magnitude of the records broken in 2023 was particularly striking, with experts alarmed by the substantial margin by which these records were broken. 

The year started with only a few days breaking air temperature records. Still, the latter half of 2023 saw an extraordinary and continuous streak of daily temperature records – more than 200.

This unexpected warmth is primarily attributed to the early onset of El Niño conditions, which released additional heat into the atmosphere from the East Pacific Ocean, despite the full impact of El Niño not anticipated until early 2024.

The global ramifications of the record warmth in 2023 are evident across the map, with almost every region experiencing temperatures above the 1991-2020 levels. This widespread warmth contributed to exacerbated extreme weather events worldwide, including heatwaves, wildfires, droughts, and flooding.

Notable consequences in 2023 include the strikingly low Antarctic sea ice, below-average Arctic sea ice, extreme melting of glaciers in western North America and the European Alps, and the highest recorded sea surface temperatures, leading to multiple marine heatwaves.

Looking ahead, there is uncertainty about whether 2024 will surpass the record-breaking warmth of 2023. The unusual behaviour of the ongoing El Niño complicates predictions, raising concerns about the possibility of surpassing the crucial 1.5C warming threshold.