Scorching climate data shows September was hottest-ever, 2023 to melt all records

Sign warns of extreme heat at the Badwater Basin salt flats inside Death Valley National Park in California. — AFP/file
Sign warns of extreme heat at the Badwater Basin salt flats inside Death Valley National Park in California. — AFP/file 

The global temperatures in September broke all previous records, leaving scientists astounded, according to the EU climate service.

The past month saw temperatures that were 0.93°C higher than the average September temperature between 1991-2020 and 0.5°C hotter than the previous record set in 2020.

Ongoing emissions of warming gases, in combination with the El Niño weather event, are believed to be driving this unprecedented heat.

Some scientists expressed shock at the magnitude of this increase, and they now anticipate that 2023 is on course to become the hottest year on record.

This record-breaking September follows the hottest summer ever recorded in the northern hemisphere, with soaring temperatures showing no signs of abating.

Data from the Copernicus Climate Change Service reveals that this month experienced the most significant deviation from the long-term average since records began in 1940.

Scientists found some details in the data to be remarkably surprising.

Zeke Hausfather, an experienced researcher, stated on X (formerly known as Twitter), “This month was, in my professional opinion as a climate scientist, absolutely astonishing.”

Exceeding the long-term recent average by nearly a degree is concerning, but it conceals even more substantial variations in some regions of the world. In Europe, for instance, the increase in temperature was remarkable, surpassing the long-term average by 2.51°C.

“The unprecedented temperatures observed in September, following a record-breaking summer, have shattered records by an extraordinary margin,” noted Dr Samantha Burgess, Deputy Director of the Copernicus Climate Change Service (C3S).

One crucial metric for climate researchers is the deviation between current temperatures and those before the widespread use of fossil fuels.

Last month witnessed temperatures around 1.75°C above those during the so-called pre-industrial period, marking the highest figure ever recorded for a single month.

This data is causing considerable unease among researchers.

In 2015, political leaders meeting in Paris agreed to strive to limit the global temperature increase to under 1.5°C this century.

While September’s figure doesn’t violate that agreement, as the Paris target concerns decades rather than months, it is undeniably a concerning trend.

Scientists believe that the entire year will likely remain below that 1.5°C threshold, but Copernicus suggests that 2023 is “on track” to be the hottest year on record. The year-to-date figures through September narrowly surpassed the previous hottest year, 2016, by 0.05°C, making it the warmest ever.

October has witnessed a continuation of extreme heat, with many locations, including Spain, breaking monthly high-temperature records.

Global temperatures may surge even higher as the El Niño weather event has yet to reach its peak.

El Niño is a component of the El Niño Southern Oscillation, the dominant natural mode of global climate variability on Earth on seasonal or year-to-year timescales. During El Niño events, warm water rises to the surface in the East Pacific, releasing additional heat into the atmosphere.

This is one of the factors contributing to the rising global temperatures when combined with the long-term warming caused by human activities, primarily the release of planet-warming greenhouse gases.

Experts believe that the significant increase in temperatures puts new pressure on politicians to take action as they prepare to convene for the COP28 climate summit at the end of November.

“Two months ahead of COP28, the urgency for ambitious climate action has never been greater,” remarked Dr Burgess.

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