July Sets New Record as Hottest Month Ever: Climate Consequences and Urgent Calls for Action

Fires have raged on the Italian island of Sicily © Giovanni ISOLINO / AFP/File

July 2023 has made history as the hottest month on record, with temperatures nearly a degree above the 1991-2020 average. Widespread wildfires, land and marine heatwaves characterized the month, accentuating the need for immediate action on climate change.

Copernicus, a leading climate observatory, reported multiple regions in the Northern Hemisphere facing unprecedented heatwaves, including parts of Europe and South America. Temperatures soared over various South American nations and encircled Antarctica.

Beyond official data, proxy climate records, like tree rings and ice cores, suggest that July’s temperatures might be unprecedented for thousands of years, even possibly surpassing events spanning over a hundred millennia.

Hottest Month
The 30 warmest months globally
Source: ERA5 data from the EU-funded Copernicus Climate Change Service (C3S)

The alarming rise in temperatures, driven by approximately 1.2°C of global warming since the 1800s due to fossil fuel combustion, has intensified heatwaves, storms, floods, and ecological impacts.

Samantha Burgess, Deputy Director of the Copernicus Climate Change Service, expressed concern about the dire repercussions of these records, stating, “The urgency for ambitious efforts to reduce global greenhouse gas emissions, which are the main driver behind these records, is clear.”

The ocean’s surface temperature reached an all-time high of 20.96°C on July 30, posing threats to marine ecosystems and coastal communities. The previous record was set in March 2016 at 20.95°C.

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres emphasized the gravity of the situation, asserting that “Climate change is here. It is terrifying. And it is just the beginning.” Urgent and bold actions to curb emissions are vital, as the world grapples with the reality of “global boiling.”

With unprecedented heatwaves, forest fires, and extreme weather events unfolding across the world, the need for immediate, decisive climate action has never been more critical.

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