2023 set to be hottest year in 125,000 years, EU scientists say

The year 2023 is expected to be the hottest in the world in 125,000 years, European Union scientists said on Wednesday (8), after data showed that last month was the hottest October never recorded.

Last month, the highest average temperature of October 2019 exceeded the highest average temperature of October 2019 by 0.4°C, said the deputy director of the Copernicus Climate Change Service (C3S) of the EU. Samantha Burgesscalling the temperature “very extreme.”

This makes 2023 “virtually certain” to be the hottest year on record, C3S said in a statement.

The heat is the result of continued greenhouse gas emissions from the burning of fossil fuels, combined with the emergence of the natural climate phenomenon El Niño, which warms the surface waters of the eastern Pacific Ocean.

The hottest year on record is 2016 – another El Niño year – although 2023 is on track to surpass that figure.

“When we combine our data with that of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), we can say that this is the hottest year in the last 125,000 years,” Burgess said.

Long-term data from the United Nations Climate Science Panel and the IPCC include readings from sources such as ice cores, tree rings and coral deposits.

Climate change is fueling increasingly destructive extreme phenomena. In 2023, that includes floods that killed thousands in Libya, severe heat waves in South America and the worst wildfire season on record in Canada.

Globally, the average October surface air temperature of 15.3°C was 1.7°C warmer than the October average from 1850 to 1900, which Copernicus defined as the period pre-industrial.

The only other month that broke the temperature record by such a margin was September 2023.

“September really surprised us,” Burgess said. “After the last month, it is therefore difficult to determine whether we are in a new climate state. But today, registrations continue to decline and are less surprising than a month ago.”

See also: High temperatures are influenced by human action

El Niño effect

The combination of human-caused climate change and a naturally occurring El Niño is fueling fears of further heat-related destruction, including in Australia, which is bracing for a severe bushfire season in a climate hot and dry.

The current El Niño weather phenomenon is expected to last at least until April 2024, the World Meteorological Organization announced on Wednesday.

“Most El Niño years are now record-breaking because the additional global heat from this phenomenon contributes to the steady increase in human-caused warming,” said Micha el Mann, a climatologist at the University of Pennsylvania.

The scientists’ findings were made public three weeks before governments meet in Dubai for this year’s UN climate negotiations, known as COP28. Nearly 200 countries will negotiate more energetic measures to fight climate change.

One of the central questions at COP28 will be whether governments will agree – for the first time – to phase out the burning of carbon dioxide-emitting fossil fuels.

Under current plans by fossil fuel producers to extract coal, oil and gas, global production by 2030 would be more than double the levels considered consistent with meeting globally agreed targets for limit climate change, the United Nations and researchers said in a report.

Although countries have set increasingly ambitious targets to gradually reduce their emissions, this has not yet been the case. Global CO2 emissions hit a record high in 2022.

“We must not allow the devastating floods, wildfires, storms and heatwaves experienced this year to become the new normal,” he said. Pierre Forsterclimatologist at the University of Leeds.

“By rapidly reducing greenhouse gas emissions over the next decade, we can cut the rate of warming in half,” he added.