Earth records hottest 3 months on record, greenhouse gases and sea levels hit highs

There's a 98% chance the hottest year ever will happen in the next five years.

September 6, 2023, 7:16 AM

LONDON -- The hottest three months on record have just been recorded on Earth, according to the Copernicus Climate Change Service (C3S).

The European-Union funded agency said that “Global sea surface temperatures are at unprecedented highs for the third consecutive month and Antarctic sea ice extent remains at a record low for the time of year,” in a press release published on Wednesday.

Elsewhere, greenhouse gas concentrations, global sea level and ocean heat content also reached record highs in 2022, according to the 33rd annual State of the Climate report, said the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration on Wednesday.

"Earth’s greenhouse gas concentrations were the highest on record. Carbon dioxide, methane and nitrous oxide⁠ — Earth’s major atmospheric greenhouse gases ⁠— once again reached record high concentrations in 2022," said the NOAA. "The global annual average atmospheric carbon dioxide concentration was 417.1 parts per million (ppm). This was 50% greater than the pre-industrial level, 2.4 ppm greater than the 2021 amount, and the highest measured amount in the modern observational records as well as in paleoclimatic records dating back as far as 800,000 years."

“It was the hottest August on record – by a large margin – and the second hottest ever month after July 2023, according to the Copernicus Climate Change Service ERA 5 dataset,” C3S said on Wednesday. “August as a whole is estimated to have been around 1.5°C warmer than the preindustrial average for 1850-1900, according to C3S.”

From January to August of 2023, the agency said it has been the second warmest year on record – only behind 2016 -- when there was a powerful warming El Niño event, C3S said.

“August as a whole saw the highest global monthly average sea surface temperatures on record across all months, at 20.98°C. Temperatures exceeded the previous record (March 2016) every single day in August,” according to C3S.

Meanwhile, Antarctic sea ice extent remained at a record low level for the time of year, according to the agency, with a monthly value 12% below average, which is the “largest negative anomaly for August since satellite observations began in the late 1970s.”

FILE - A man sunbathes in high temperatures in Marseille, southern France, Aug. 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.
Daniel Cole/AP

“A report in May from WMO (World Meteorolgical Organization) and the UK's Met Office predicted that there is a 98% likelihood that at least one of the next five years will be the warmest on record and a 66% chance of temporarily exceeding 1.5°C above the 1850-1900 average for at least one of the five years,” C3S continued. “This does not mean that we will permanently exceed the 1.5°C level specified in the Paris Agreement which refers to long-term warming over many years.”

Warming trends have been continuing across the globe, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).

"A range of scientific analyses indicate that the annual global surface temperature was 0.45 to 0.54 of a degree F (0.25 to 0.30 of a degree C) above the 1991–2020 average," said the NOAA on Wednesday. "This places 2022 among the six warmest years since records began in the mid-to-late 1800s."

“Our planet has just endured a season of simmering -- the hottest summer on record. Climate breakdown has begun. Scientists have long warned what our fossil fuel addiction will unleash. Surging temperatures demand a surge in action. Leaders must turn up the heat now for climate solutions. We can still avoid the worst of climate chaos – and we don’t have a moment to lose, “ added UN Secretary-General António Guterres.

C3S, implemented by the European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts (ECMWF) on behalf of the European Commission, routinely monitors climate and has also been closely following recent development of global air and sea surface temperatures.

“The northern hemisphere just had a summer of extremes – with repeated heatwaves fuelling devastating wildfires, harming health, disrupting daily lives and wreaking a lasting toll on the environment. In the southern hemisphere Antarctic sea ice extent was literally off the charts, and the global sea surface temperature was once again at a new record. It is worth noting that this is happening BEFORE we see the full warming impact of the El Niño event, which typically plays out in the second year after it develops” said World Meteorological Organization Secretary-General Prof. Petteri Taalas.

Said Carlo Buontempo, Director of the Copernicus Climate Change Service, ECMWF: “Eight months into 2023, so far we are experiencing the second warmest year to date, only fractionally cooler than 2016, and August was estimated to be around 1.5°C warmer than pre-industrial levels. 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.”