Over the northern hemisphere summer that has been dominated by floods, fires, and unrelenting heat, with temperature records being regularly smashed, climate scientists have become increasingly alarmed.
But their worst fears were confirmed yesterday when the latest data from Copernicus revealed that September was the warmest September on record. But it is the amount of warming last month that is really concerning scientists.
Although many figures are alarming, two stand out: The month was around 1.75°C warmer than the September average for 1850-1900, the pre-industrial reference period.
The monthly surface air temperature was 0.93°C above the 1991-2020 average.
These figures had scientists completely and utterly shocked. As Carlo Buontempo, the Director of Copernicus Climate Change Service stated,
Words can’t easily convey how abnormally large this is: by far the warmest September on record; no other month ever reached anomalies as large.
Others took to X, formally known as Twitter:
The anomaly for September 2023 is:
the largest warm anomaly
of any month
of any year
in the ERA dataset (back to 1940)
— Dr Sam Burgess 🌍🌡🛰 (@OceanTerra) October 5, 2023
Surprising. Astounding. Staggering. Unnerving. Bewildering. Flabbergasting. Disquieting. Gobsmacking. Shocking. Mind boggling. pic.twitter.com/hNtARXD20F
— Ed Hawkins (@ed_hawkins) October 5, 2023
"Scientists said that the exceptional events of 2023 could be a normal year in just a decade, unless there is a dramatic increase in climate action." https://t.co/5FnKvIkqQY
— Joelle Gergis (@joellegergis) October 5, 2023
Holy shit pic.twitter.com/GXAchkXT4t
— James Dyke (@JamesGDyke) October 5, 2023
The first global temperature data is in for the full month of September. This month was, in my professional opinion as a climate scientist – absolutely gobsmackingly bananas. JRA-55 beat the prior monthly record by over 0.5C, and was around 1.8C warmer than preindutrial levels. pic.twitter.com/mgg3rcR2xZ
— Zeke Hausfather (@hausfath) October 3, 2023
For those still in doubt/denial, this is not what gradual warming looks like: pic.twitter.com/ca8rdU8hf1
— Leon Simons (@LeonSimons8) October 5, 2023
Other figures are equally alarming. For Europe, September 2023 was the warmest September on record, but it was a massive 2.51°C higher than the 1991-2020 average and over 1.1°C higher than 2020, the previous warmest September.
The sea did not escape the rapidly rising temperatures, especially in the Northern hemisphere. The average sea surface temperature for September over 60°S—60°N reached 20.92°C, the highest on record for September and the second highest across all months, behind August 2023.
Speaking about the figures, Samantha Burgess, Deputy Director of the Copernicus Climate Change Service (C3S) added:
The unprecedented temperatures for the time of year observed in September—following a record summer—have broken records by an extraordinary amount.
This extreme month has pushed 2023 into the dubious honor of first place—on track to be the warmest year and around 1.4°C above preindustrial average temperatures. Two months out from COP28, the urgency for ambitious climate action has never been more critical.
The record temperatures are having a significant impact on both the Antarctic and Arctic. The Antarctic sea ice extent remained at a record low for the time of year. Meanwhile, the daily Arctic sea ice extent reached its 6th lowest annual minimum.
Although the Guardian picked up the story, scientists criticized other news outlets, such as the BBC, for not covering the September figures and our climate emergency. Other right-wing press remains complicit in the problem. For example, the Daily Telegraph in the UK, is actively calling on UK Prime Minister, Rishi Sunak, to “scrap his Net Zero plans.”
So much of the media remains complicit in our climate emergency. So do the fossil fuel industry and governments. Just last month, OCI revealed that only 20 countries, led overwhelmingly by the United States, are responsible for nearly 90 percent of the carbon dioxide threatened by new oil and gas fields and fracking wells planned between 2023 and 2050.
If the temperature records are telling us anything, this cannot be allowed to continue.