2023 was the warmest year on record – NASA Analysis

This map of Earth in 2023 shows global surface temperature anomalies, or how much warmer or cooler each region of the planet was compared to the average from 1951 to 1980. Normal temperatures are shown in white, higher-than-normal temperatures in red and orange, and lower-than-normal temperatures in blue. An animated version of this map shows global temperature anomalies changing over time, dating back to 1880.
This map of Earth in 2023 shows global surface temperature anomalies, or how much warmer or cooler each region of the planet was compared to the average from 1951 to 1980. Normal temperatures are shown in white, higher-than-normal temperatures in red and orange, and lower-than-normal temperatures in blue. An animated version of this map shows global temperature anomalies changing over time, dating back to 1880. Image: NASA’s Scientific Visualization Studio
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2023 was Earth’s warmest year since modern record-keeping began around 1880, and the past 10 consecutive years have been the warmest 10 on record.

It is now confirmed that 2023 was the warmest year on record, as per an analysis conducted by NASA, which reveals: “Global temperatures last year were around 2.1 degrees Fahrenheit (1.2 degrees Celsius) above the average for NASA’s baseline period (1951-1980), scientists from NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies (GISS) in New York reported.”

“NASA and NOAA’s global temperature report confirms what billions of people around the world experienced last year; we are facing a climate crisis,” said NASA Administrator Bill Nelson. “From extreme heat, to wildfires, to rising sea levels, we can see our Earth is changing. There’s still more work to be done, but President Biden and communities across America are taking more action than ever to reduce climate risks and help communities become more resilient – and NASA will continue to use our vantage point of space to bring critical climate data back down to Earth that is understandable and accessible for all people. NASA and the Biden-Harris Administration are working to protect our home planet and its people, for this generation – and the next.”

2023 sweltered under record-breaking heat, with temperatures soaring above average every month from June to December. Millions across the globe faced scorching temperatures in 2023, as every month from June to December shattered heat records. July emerged as the hottest month ever, with the year overall averaging a stifling 2.5°F warmer than the late 19th century.

“The exceptional warming that we’re experiencing is not something we’ve seen before in human history,” said Gavin Schmidt, director of GISS. “It’s driven primarily by our fossil fuel emissions, and we’re seeing the impacts in heat waves, intense rainfall, and coastal flooding.”

According to NASA: “Though scientists have conclusive evidence that the planet’s long-term warming trend is driven by human activity, they still examine other phenomena that can affect yearly or multi-year changes in climate such as El Niño, aerosols and pollution, and volcanic eruptions. Typically, the largest source of year-to-year variability is the El Niño – Southern Oscillation ocean climate pattern in the Pacific Ocean. The pattern has two phases – El Niño and La Niña – when sea surface temperatures along the equator switch between warmer, average, and cooler temperatures. From 2020-2022, the Pacific Ocean saw three consecutive La Niña events, which tend to cool global temperatures. In May 2023, the ocean transitioned from La Niña to El Niño, which often coincides with the hottest years on record. However, the record temperatures in the second half of 2023 occurred before the peak of the current El Niño event. Scientists expect to see the biggest impacts of El Niño in February, March, and April.”

 

This data visualization, which is updated monthly, shows the seasonal cycle of temperature variation on the Earth’s surface, and how those temperatures deviate from the average from 1951 to 1980. The data come from the GISS Surface Temperature Analysis and are publicly accessible here. The seasonal temperature offsets are based on the MERRA-2 reanalysis data here. NASA’s Scientific Visualization Studio

This data visualization, which is updated monthly, shows the seasonal cycle of temperature variation on the Earth’s surface, and how those temperatures deviate from the average from 1951 to 1980. The data come from the GISS Surface Temperature Analysis and are publicly accessible here. The seasonal temperature offsets are based on the MERRA-2 reanalysis data here.
NASA’s Scientific Visualization Studio

 

Furthermore, scientists also investigated the possible impacts from the eruption of the Hunga Tonga-Hunga Ha’apai undersea volcano in January 2022. This event blasted water vapour and fine particles (aerosols) into the stratosphere and a recent study found that “the volcanic aerosols – by reflecting sunlight away from Earth’s surface – led to an overall slight cooling of less than 0.2 degrees Fahrenheit (or about 0.1 degrees Celsius) in the Southern Hemisphere following the eruption”.

“Even with occasional cooling factors like volcanoes or aerosols, we will continue to break records as long as greenhouse gas emissions keep going up,” Schmidt said. “And, unfortunately, we just set a new record for greenhouse gas emissions again this past year.”

“The record-setting year of 2023 underscores the significance of urgent and continued actions to address climate change,” said NASA Deputy Administrator Pam Melroy. “Recent legislation has delivered the U.S. government’s largest-ever climate investment, including billions to strengthen America’s resilience to the increasing impacts of the climate crisis. As an agency focused on studying our changing climate, NASA’s fleet of Earth observing satellites will continue to provide critical data of our home planet at scale to help all people make informed decisions.”

Read the full press release and how NASA assembled the temeperature record here.

 

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I am a Chartered Environmentalist from the Royal Society for the Environment, UK and co-owner of DoLocal Digital Marketing Agency Ltd, with a Master of Environmental Management from Yale University, an MBA in Finance, and a Bachelor of Science in Physics and Mathematics. I am passionate about science, history and environment and love to create content on these topics.

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