In an alarming confirmation, the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) has stated that September has shattered the monthly temperature record by an unprecedented margin. This alarming trend follows scorching August and July months marked by devastating wildfires and heatwaves not only in the Northern Hemisphere but also in South America, where temperatures soared to around 40°C (104°F) during winter.
Scientists are deeply concerned by the shocking rise in both land and sea temperatures, leading 2023 to be poised as the hottest year on record. According to the EU’s Copernicus Climate Change Service (C3S), last month witnessed the most abnormal weather patterns since their data collection began in 1940, with an average surface air temperature of 16.83°C (62.29°F). This temperature is 0.5°C warmer than the previous September record set in 2020 and a staggering 1.75°C warmer than the pre-industrial average (1850-1900).
Europe experienced an alarming temperature increase, surpassing the 1991-2020 average by 2.51°C and outstripping the previous record set in September 2020 by 1.1°C. WMO’s Secretary-General, Professor Petteri Taalas, expressed deep concern, highlighting the unprecedented heatwaves globally. He emphasized the enormity of temperature anomalies, especially due to the ongoing El Nino event, which is expected to sustain these record-breaking temperatures, leading to severe consequences for the environment and society.
The sea surface temperature in September, excluding polar regions, averaged 20.92°C (69.65°F), setting a new record for September and becoming the second-highest ever recorded, surpassed only by August 2023. Furthermore, Antarctic sea ice remains at a historically low level, dropping 18% below the average for this time of year. Meteorologists attribute these extreme temperatures to climate change, which is pushing the boundaries, coupled with the influence of El Nino, a period of warming in the eastern tropical Pacific.
These alarming findings coincide with the release of the UN’s global stocktake, sounding a warning that the world is far from meeting its Paris Agreement goal of limiting the global temperature rise to 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels. Although September’s temperature increase was 1.75°C above the norm, the Paris Agreement’s target is measured over a more extended period of about 20 years. Scientists emphasize that there is still time to reverse this trend if countries globally take urgent and robust action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
Samantha Burgess, Deputy Director of the Copernicus Climate Change Service, expressed deep concern about the unprecedented temperatures observed in September, following a record summer. These extreme conditions have propelled 2023 into the dubious distinction of being on track to become the warmest year ever recorded, with temperatures approximately 1.4°C above the pre-industrial average. With just two months left until Cop28, the urgent need for ambitious climate action has never been more critical. The world must act swiftly and decisively to mitigate the escalating climate crisis.