EU Copernicus Climate Change Service says start of June saw global surface air temper break heat records for the period.
Average global temperatures at the start of June were the warmest ever recorded for the period, trouncing previous records by a “substantial margin”, the European Union’s climate monitoring unit said.
“The world has just experienced its warmest early June on record,” Samantha Burgess, deputy director of the Copernicus Climate Change Service (C3S), said in a statement on Thursday.
“Global-mean surface air temperatures for the first days of June 2023 were the highest in the ERA5 data record for early June by a substantial margin,” the Copernicus unit said, noting that some of the data go back as far as 1950.
Temperatures have since dipped, but experts say the short surge in early June marked a new global heat record for the month and indicates more extremes ahead as the planet enters an El Niño phase that could last years.
Researchers at the EU’s Copernicus unit reported that the start of June saw global surface air temperatures rise 1.5 degrees Celsius (2.7 Fahrenheit) above pre-industrial levels for the first time.
That is the threshold governments said they would try to stay within at a 2015 summit in Paris.
According to the data, the daily global average temperature was at or above the 1.5 Celsius threshold between June 7-11, reaching a maximum of 1.69 Celsius above it on June 9.
The unit said that on June 8 and 9 this year, the global average daily temperature was about 0.4 Celsius warmer than previous records for the same days.
“As the global-mean temperature continues to rise and more frequently exceed the 1.5 degrees Celsius limit, the cumulative effects of the exceedances will become increasingly serious and must be carefully monitored,” the unit said.
The days spent at the 1.5 Celsius threshold comes as a three-year La Niña phase – which tends to dampen the effects of global warming – has given way to the opposite, an El Niño period, which could add another half-degree or more to average temperatures.
Copernicus recently announced that global oceans were warmer last month than in any other May on record.
“The expectation is that 2024 will be even warmer than 2023 as this El Niño continues to develop,” Burgess said.
“We know as well the warmer the global climate is, the more likely we are to have extreme events and the more severe those extreme events may be,” she said.
“So there’s a direct correlation between the degree of global warming and the frequency and intensity of extreme events.”
UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres said on Thursday the world is racing towards a climate change disaster, describing the global response as woefully inadequate.
Current climate policies will lead to average temperatures 2.8 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial times by the end of the century, nearly twice the UN goal of a 1.5-degree Celsius rise, Guterres said.
“That spells catastrophe. Yet the collective response remains pitiful,” Guterres told a news conference.
“We are hurtling towards disaster, eyes wide open – with far too many willing to bet it all on wishful thinking, unproven technologies and silver bullet solutions. It’s time to wake up and step up,” said the UN chief.
He said the fossil fuel industry must undertake not just a transition but a full-blown transformation as it moves towards clean energy “and away from a product incompatible with human survival”.
“Countries are far off-track in meeting climate promises and commitments. I see a lack of ambition. A lack of trust. A lack of support. A lack of cooperation. And an abundance of problems around clarity and credibility,” he said.