Earth has just suffered its hottest three months on record, according to the EU-funded Copernicus Climate Change Service (C3S) implemented by ECMWF. Global sea surface temperatures are at unprecedented highs for the third consecutive month, and the extent of Antarctic sea ice remains at a record low for the time of year.
This August was the hottest on record by a large margin. It was also the second hottest-ever month after July 2023, according to the C3S ERA 5 data set. August as a whole is estimated to have been around 1.5°C warmer than the pre-industrial average for 1850-1900.
The January to August period has been the second warmest on record behind 2016, when there was a powerful warming El Niño event.
August as a whole saw the highest global monthly average sea surface temperatures on record, at 20.98°C. Temperatures exceeded the previous record, set in March 2016, every day in August.
Antarctic sea ice extent remained at a record low level for the time of year, with a monthly value 12% below average, by far the largest negative anomaly for August since satellite observations began in the late 1970s. Arctic sea ice extent was 10% below average but well above the record minimum of August 2012.
WMO secretary-general Prof. Petteri Taalas, said, “It is worth noting that this is happening before we see the full warming impact of the El Niño event, which typically plays out in the second year after it develops.”
Carlo Buontempo, director of C3S at ECMWF, commented, “What we are observing – not only new extremes but the persistence of these record-breaking conditions, and the impacts these have on both people and planet – are a clear consequence of the warming of the climate system.”
A report in May from WMO and the UK’s Met Office predicted that there is a 98% likelihood that at least one of the next five years will be the warmest on record and a 66% chance of temporarily exceeding 1.5°C above the 1850-1900 average for at least one of the five years. This does not mean that Earth temperatures will permanently exceed the 1.5°C level specified in the Paris Agreement, which refers to long-term warming over many years.
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