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November 2023 sets global record as warmest ever

November 2023 was the warmest November ever recorded globally, according to a new report from the Copernicus Climate Change Service (C3S). 

The average surface air temperature reached an unprecedented 14.22°C. This is 0.85°C higher than the 1991-2020 average for November and 0.32°C above the previous record set in 2020.

The boreal autumn season, from September to November, was also the warmest on record with an average temperature of 15.30°C.

Six record-breaking months 

“2023 has now had six record-breaking months and two record-breaking seasons. The extraordinary global November temperatures, including two days warmer than 2°C above preindustrial, mean that 2023 is the warmest year in recorded history,” said Samantha Burgess, the deputy director of C3S.

The findings are derived from comprehensive computer-generated analyses using the ERA5 data set, incorporating billions of measurements from sources like satellites, ships, aircraft, and weather stations worldwide.

November temperatures 

The report noted that the global temperature anomaly for November 2023 was similar to that of October 2023, but was surpassed by September’s 0.93°C anomaly. 

The November temperature was about 1.75°C warmer than the 1850-1900 November average, which is considered the pre-industrial reference period. 

This trend places the January to November period of 2023 as the highest on record, with a mean temperature 1.46°C above the pre-industrial average and 0.13°C higher than the 11-month average of 2016, the previously warmest calendar year.

Sea surface temperatures 

Regarding sea surface temperatures, November 2023 set another record. The average sea surface temperature over 60°S–60°N was the highest for any November, beating the previous record set in 2015 by 0.25°C. 

This coincides with the ongoing El Niño event in the equatorial Pacific, though the anomalies remain lower than those in 2015.

Climate risks 

The experts found that Arctic sea ice extent was the eighth lowest for November at four percent below average, while the Antarctic sea ice extent was the second lowest at nine percent below average. This follows a trend of record-low values over six consecutive months.

“As long as greenhouse gas concentrations keep rising, we can’t expect different outcomes from those seen this year. The temperature will keep rising and so will the impacts of heatwaves and droughts. Reaching net zero as soon as possible is an effective way to manage our climate risks,” said C3S director Carlo Buontempo.

Broader implications 

The Copernicus data was released just days after a report from the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) confirmed that the last decade was the hottest on record.

“Each decade since the 1990s has been warmer than the previous one and we see no immediate sign of this trend reversing. More countries reported record high temperatures than in any other decade. Our ocean is warming faster and faster and the rate of sea level rise has nearly doubled in less than a generation. We are losing the race to save our melting glaciers and ice sheets,” said WMO Secretary-General Professor Petteri Taalas.

“This is unequivocally driven by greenhouse gas emissions from human activities. We have to cut greenhouse gas emissions as a top and overriding priority for the planet in order to prevent climate change spiraling out of control.”

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