World - The world just sweltered through its hottest August on record
August 2023 was Earth’s hottest August in NOAA’s 174-year climate record.
The sizzling month also wrapped up the Northern Hemisphere’s warmest meteorological summer and the Southern Hemisphere’s warmest meteorological winter on record, according to an analysis by scientists from NOAA’s National Centers for Environmental Information.
“This analysis highlights the suite of climate services provided by NOAA, which informs a climate-ready nation,” said NOAA Chief Scientist Dr. Sarah Kapnick. “Not only was last month the warmest August on record by quite a lot, it was also the globe’s 45th-consecutive August and the 534th-consecutive month with temperatures above the 20th-century average. Global marine heat waves and a growing El Niño are driving additional warming this year, but as long as emissions continue driving a steady march of background warming, we expect further records to be broken in the years to come.”
Following is a closer look at NOAA’s latest monthly global climate report:
Climate by the numbers
The average global land and ocean surface temperature in August was 2.25 degrees F (1.25 degrees C) above the 20th-century average of 60.1 degrees F (15.6 degrees C), ranking as the warmest August in the 174-year global climate record.
Four continents — Africa, Asia, North America and South America — had their warmest Augusts on record, while Europe and Oceania both saw their second-warmest August on record. August 2023 was the Arctic region’s warmest August on record.
For the fifth-consecutive month, the global sea surface temperature hit a record high for the month. In fact, August 2023 set a record for the highest monthly sea surface temperature anomaly (1.85 degrees F, or 1.03 degrees C, higher than normal) of any month in NOAA’s climate record.
Season (June-August 2023) | Year to date (YTD, January-August 2023)
The June–August 2023 global surface temperature was 2.07 degrees F (1.15 degrees C) above the 20th-century average of 60.1 degrees F (15.6 degrees C). This ranks as the warmest June–August period in the 174-year record, and 0.43 of a degree (0.24 of a degree C) above the previous record. The past 10 June–August periods are the 10-warmest such periods on record.
June-August 2023 was also the Northern Hemisphere’s hottest meteorological summer on record, at 2.59 degrees F (1.44 degrees C) above average. The season, which also marks the Southern Hemisphere’s winter, was the Southern Hemisphere’s warmest winter on record at 1.53 degrees F (0.85 of a degree C) above average.
Globally, the YTD ranked as the second-warmest such YTD ever recorded, at 1.55 degrees F (0.86 of a degree C) above the 20th-century average of 57.3 degrees F (14.0 degrees C). According to NCEI’s Global Annual Temperature Outlook and data through August, there is a 95% chance that 2023 will rank among the world’s two warmest years on record.
Other notable climate events in the report
August 2023 had the lowest global August sea ice extent on record: Globally, sea ice extent (coverage) in August 2023 was about 550,000 square miles less than the previous record low from August 2019. Sea ice extent in Antarctica continued to track at record lows — Antarctica saw its fourth-consecutive month with the lowest sea ice extent on record. Six of the first eight months in 2023 have seen Antarctic sea ice extent at record-breaking low levels.
The tropics were active in August: Nineteen named storms occurred across the globe in August 2023, which is tied for the third most for August since 1981. Eight of those reached major tropical cyclone strength (sustained winds of 111 mph or higher), which ties August 2015 for the most August storms on record. The Atlantic, with six storms in August including two hurricanes, had activity that was considered above normal by all metrics. The East Pacific basin saw six named storms, including three major hurricanes, while the West Pacific saw seven storms, six of which became typhoons.