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Earth’s hottest June on record

Temperatures have hit record highs across the world in 2023.
© Unsplash/Ryan Loughlin
Temperatures have hit record highs across the world in 2023.

Earth’s hottest June on record

Climate and Environment

Last month was the hottest June since records began and the thirteenth month in a row to set a temperature record, according to new data released on Monday from the European Union’s Copernicus Climate Change Service.

“These latest figures from the Copernicus Climate Change Service unfortunately highlight that we will be exceeding the 1.5 degrees Celsius level on a temporary basis with increasing frequency, on a monthly basis,” said the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) Secretary-General Celeste Saulo.

The crucial 1.5°C threshold refers to the temperature rise above pre-industrial levels beginning in 1850.

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Long-term picture

“However, it is important to stress that temporary breaches do not mean that the 1.5 degrees Celsius goal is permanently lost because this refers to long-term warming over at least two decades,” she added.

Efforts to limit the long-term global average surface temperature to 1.5 degrees Celsius by the end of this century were officially endorsed under the Paris Agreement, put into effect in 2016.

The scientific community has warned that warming of more than 1.5 degrees Celsius may lead to increasingly severe climate change impacts and severe weather events, emphasising the significance of every fraction of a degree.

For example, every 0.1 degree Celsius increase causes “clearly discernible increases in the intensity and frequency of temperature and precipitation extremes, as well as agricultural and ecological droughts in some regions,” according to WMO, the UN weather agency.

Extreme weather patterns

WMO has warned that even at today's levels of warming, the world faces devastating climate impacts. More extreme heatwaves, rainfall events and droughts, reductions in glaciers, and accelerating sea level rise are already ravaging the planet.

Extreme heat also causes the greatest mortality rate of all extreme weather, with an estimated 489,000 heat-related deaths per year between 2000 and 2019, according to a 2023 WMO report.

The record sea surface temperature is also the highest value on record for the month of June. These record-breaking temperatures are of “great concern to vital marine ecosystems and they also provide energy to super-charge tropical cyclones – as we saw with Hurricane Beryl,” said Ms. Saulo.

Sea ice at the poles is also being impacted, with the Arctic three per cent below average while the Antarctic was 12 per cent below average for the month of June, according to satellite data.

Highlights across the globe

Across the globe, European temperatures rose the most above average over southeast regions and Türkiye.

Meanwhile, outside Europe, the most above average temperatures occurred in eastern Canada, the western United States and Mexico, Brazil, northern Siberia, the Middle East, northern Africa, and western Antarctica.

While temperatures were below average over the eastern equatorial Pacific, indicating a developing La Niña, air temperatures over the ocean remained at an unusually high level over many regions.

"Even if this specific streak of extremes ends at some point, we are bound to see new records being broken as the climate continues to warm,” said Carlo Buontempo, Director of the Copernicus Climate Change Service.

“This is inevitable, unless we stop adding greenhouse gases into the atmosphere and the oceans," he added.