September 2023 was the hottest September on record, with temperatures surpassing previous records by an extraordinary margin. This record-breaking heat is a clear indication that the world is on track for its hottest year ever, and scientists are pointing to climate change as the primary cause.
The new data from the Copernicus Climate Change Service (C3S) reveals that average surface air temperatures globally reached 16.38C in September. This figure is 0.93C above the average for September over the last two decades and 0.5C warmer than the previous warmest September in 2020. The margin by which this record was broken has astonished scientists.
Professor Ed Hawkins, a climate scientist at Reading University, describes the record-breaking margin as “huge” and emphasizes that records should not be broken by such a significant amount. Piers Forster, interim chair of the government’s Climate Change Committee and climate change professor at Leeds University, also highlights the abnormality of this record, stating that breaking the previous September record by 0.5C is “crazy” and indicates that something unusual is happening.
While scientists acknowledge that natural factors like the El Nino weather pattern and changes in weather patterns contribute to the heat, they believe that climate change is the main driver. The increase in greenhouse gas emissions, which are currently at an all-time high, is seen as the principal cause of the record-breaking temperatures.
This record-breaking heat is not limited to land temperatures but also extends to the oceans. The ocean surface temperatures in September reached the second-highest ever recorded, following closely behind August 2023. Additionally, the record low sea ice cover in Antarctica, which has continued into September, raises concerns that climate change is impacting even the previously thought to be shielded continent.
With just two months until the next global climate talks, COP28 in Dubai, the urgency for ambitious climate action is more critical than ever. The unprecedented heat records broken this year serve as a clear warning of what is to come in the future if immediate action is not taken to address climate change.