We have just experienced the hottest day ever recorded on Earth, with the average global temperature exceeding 17°C (62.6°F) for the first time.
The global average air temperature recorded at 2 meters above the Earth’s surface reached 17.01 °C (62.62 °F) on July 3. according to data from the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and compiled by the University of Maine.
It surpasses the record of 16.92 °C (62.46 °F) reached in August 2016 and July 2022, making July 3, 2023 the hottest day on Earth since records began.
Robert Rohde at the University of California, Berkeley, says the rise in temperatures has likely been driven by recent heat waves in the US, Europe and Canada, and the acceleration of El Niño conditions, which makes sea surface temperatures in the Pacific Ocean to rise above average.
“The El Niño event was officially declared by NOAA in early June,” he says. “Warming has been spreading in the Pacific and that is likely to help things [temperatures] going up a bit more in July than in previous months.”
This specific NOAA/Maine data set only goes back to 1979, but is comparable with other data that goes back much further. Rohde says he is confident it is the highest since instrumental measurements began. It’s an “expected milestone,” he says, given the twin drivers of climate change and additional warming from El Niño.
“We will continue to exceed these thresholds every few years if we have El Niño variability on top of global warming, until we get global warming under control,” says Rohde.
The news comes on the heels of a record warm June. Earlier this week, the Met Office, the UK’s national weather service, declared June 2023 the warmest on record for the country, with an average mean temperature of 15.8°C (60.44°F) for the month, which is 2.5 °C. (4.5 °F) above average and 0.9 °C (1.6 °F) above the previous record.
The Met Office said the likelihood of a new record being set in June has doubled as a result of climate change. “Along with natural variability, background warming of the Earth’s atmosphere due to human-induced climate change has increased the possibility of record temperatures,” the agency’s chief meteorologist Paul Davies said in a press release.
Meanwhile, data from the EU’s Copernicus Climate Change Service confirmed this week that average global temperatures in June 2023 were 1.46°C above pre-industrial levels, moving ever closer to the 1.5° threshold. C that countries promised not to exceed.
BREAKING: June 2023 has broken all previous records for the month of June, coming in at a staggering 0.16C above the previous record set in 2019.
It was around 1.46°C above the typical temperatures we saw in June in the pre-industrial era (1850-1899). pic.twitter.com/7D5yR11n0z
—Zeke Hausfather (@hausfath) July 3, 2023
Average global air temperatures follow the seasonal cycles of the Northern Hemisphere, with maximum temperatures in July. This is because air temperatures fluctuate more over land than over water, and because the Northern Hemisphere has more land mass than the Southern Hemisphere, it has a greater influence on the global average.
With El Niño continuing to grow throughout the rest of the year and the arrival of summer in the northern hemisphere, Rohde believes that July and August are likely to see even record-high average global temperatures as well. This year is “more likely than not” to be the warmest year on record, he says.