October 2023: The Planet's Hottest Month Ever RecordedEnvironment | November 8, 2023, Wednesday // 10:32| views
Photo: Stella Ivanova @novinite.com
In a stunning anomaly, October 2023 has been declared the hottest October on record, according to the European Union's Copernicus Climate Change Service (C3S). The month surpassed the previous temperature record set in October 2019 by a remarkable margin, with an average surface air temperature of 15.3°C—0.85°C above the 1991-2020 October average and 0.4°C higher than October 2019.
The C3S, based at the European Center for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts, compiles monthly climate bulletins using data from satellites, ships, aircraft, and weather stations around the world. This information is derived from the ERA5 data set, a fifth-generation atmospheric reanalysis of global climate that spans from January 1940 to the present. The startling 0.4°C temperature anomaly for October 2023 is described as "very extreme" by C3S Deputy Director Samantha Burgess.
Notably, this massive temperature deviation marks the second instance in 2023 where a temperature record has been shattered by such a significant margin. The earlier record-breaking occurrence happened in September.
The driving force behind these elevated temperatures is the continued emission of greenhouse gases from human activity, coupled with the emergence of the El Niño weather pattern in 2023. El Niño has caused surface waters in the eastern Pacific Ocean to warm.
Climate scientist Michael Mann explains that most El Niño years are now record years because the additional global warmth from El Niño compounds the ongoing human-induced warming.
While El Niño conditions are developing in the equatorial Pacific, anomalies currently remain lower than those observed during the historically strong events of 1997 and 2015.
Globally, October 2023 was 1.7°C warmer than the same month in 1850-1900, which Copernicus designates as the pre-industrial period. This record-breaking October sets the stage for 2023 to be declared the warmest year on record. The prior record was established in 2016 when El Niño also played a role in warming.
The data for the year-to-date (January to October) shows that 2023 boasts the highest global average temperature on record, surpassing the pre-industrial 1850-1900 average by 1.43°C. This figure also exceeds the ten-month average for 2016, previously the warmest calendar year on record, by 0.1°C.
In Europe, October 2023 ranked as the fourth warmest October on record, registering 1.3°C above the 1991-2020 average. The mean sea surface temperature between 60°S and 60°N was 20.79°C, the highest ever recorded for October.
Climate change-induced extremes continue to wreak havoc globally. In 2023, devastating floods claimed thousands of lives in Libya, severe heatwaves desiccated parts of the Amazon in South America, and Canada experienced its most extensive wildfire season in history.
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