In July 2023, a significant milestone in rising temperatures is expected to be reached, according to U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres. Scientists predict that this month is likely to become the hottest on record worldwide.
The U.N. World Meteorological Organization (WMO) and the European Union’s Copernicus Climate Change Service jointly stated that July 2023 is “extremely likely” to break the existing temperature record. Guterres, speaking from New York, asserted that there is no need to wait until the month’s end to confirm this, as it is almost certain that July 2023 will surpass all previous records.
Guterres expressed concern about the effects of climate change, stating that “the era of global boiling has arrived.” Throughout July, the scorching heat has caused wildfires in Greece’s Rhodes Island, intense heatwaves in the U.S. Southwest, and a record-breaking temperature of 52.2°C (126°F) in a town in northwest China.
While the WMO will officially confirm the record after analyzing all data in August, an analysis from Germany’s Leipzig University already indicates that July 2023 will secure the record. It is projected to be at least 0.2°C (0.4°F) warmer than the previous record-holder, July 2019, making it the warmest July in the 174-year observational record, according to EU data.
The margin between July 2023 and July 2019 is substantial, leaving little doubt that this will be the warmest July on record, with an estimated temperature around 1.5 degrees Celsius (2.7 degrees Fahrenheit) above the pre-industrial mean. The WMO confirmed that the first three weeks of July have already been the warmest on record.
Michael Mann, a climate scientist, highlighted that this month’s heat is indicative of a planet that will continue to warm as long as fossil fuels are burned. Typically, the global mean temperature for July is around 16°C (61°F), but this July, it surged to around 17°C (63°F).
Remarkably, this could be one of the warmest conditions the Earth has experienced in thousands, if not tens of thousands, of years, according to Haustein, based on preliminary temperature data and weather models.
The impact of the sweltering temperatures is evident worldwide, with wildfires, heatwaves, and extreme weather events occurring in various regions. Concerns about coral reef die-off arise due to marine heatwaves along coastlines from Florida to Australia.
The planet is also experiencing the early stages of an El Nino event, which contributes to the warming driven by human-caused climate change. Although El Nino’s impacts are expected to peak later this year and into 2024, its influence has already contributed to the higher temperatures in July 2023.
Despite August not likely surpassing July’s record, scientists anticipate that either 2023 or 2024 will become the hottest year in recorded history, surpassing the previous record set in 2016.