Climate crisis: Hottest week ever follows hottest June

11 Jul 2023

Image generated by AI: © Sunshower Shots/

The WMO has shared ‘worrying news’ as global temperatures keep rising, along with expectations that more records will be broken later this year.

Evidence of a worsening climate crisis continues to mount, as new reports from the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) reveal the Earth has broken multiple heat records.

The latest report suggests the first week in July was the hottest week ever recorded, with record-breaking temperatures on land and in the ocean.

Provisional data analysed by a team in Japan – named JRA-3Q – suggests the average global temperature on 7 July was 17.24 degrees Celsius. This is 0.3 degrees Celsius higher than the previous record temperature set on 16 August 2016.

While the Japanese data has not yet been confirmed, the WMO said it is consistent with preliminary data coming from the EU’s Copernicus Climate Change Service.

This result follows record-breaking temperatures recorded for the month of June. Data from Copernicus shows that last month was 0.5 degrees Celsius warmer than the 1991-2020 average, beating the previous record set in June 2019, which was 0.4 degrees Celsius above average.

The new records have occurred during an El Niño event, which is a climate pattern associated with warming of the ocean surface temperatures in the central and eastern tropical Pacific Ocean. It occurs every two to seven years on average, with the last event occurring in 2016.

The WMO warned that these new temperatures could have potentially “devastating” impacts on ecosystems and said it highlights the far-reaching impacts taking place from “human induced climate change”.

Impacts to ice and sea

WMO Director of Climate Services Prof Christopher Hewitt said we are entering “uncharted territory” and expects more records to be broken as the El Niño event develops further.

“This is worrying news for the planet,” Hewitt said. “The exceptional warmth in June and at the start of July occurred at the onset of the development of El Niño, which is expected to further fuel the heat both on land and in the oceans and lead to more extreme temperatures and marine heatwaves.”

The WMO said the rising sea temperatures are expected to impact fisheries, ocean circulation and create “knock-on effects” for the climate. A report from NOAA Research at the end of June warned that nearly half of the world’s ocean is on track to experience marine heatwave conditions by September.

These heatwaves can cause mass die-offs of marine life and seabirds, disrupt food webs, bleach corals, spur harmful algal blooms and wipe out seaweeds, according to the US organisation.

Antarctic sea ice also reached its lowest extent for June since satellite observations began, dropping 17pc below average according to the WMO report. Arctic sea ice was below average but above June values from the past eight years.

Earlier reports have also highlighted the threat of the climate crisis and the impact it is having on both humanity and the planet as a whole.

In May, the WMO warned that there is a 98pc chance that at least one of the next five years “and the five-year period as a whole” will be the warmest on record.

A recent study by researchers at Queen’s University Belfast suggests that the impact on biodiversity is worse than we thought, with nearly half of all species declining towards extinction.

Despite this, other reports suggest human contributors to the climate crisis continue to grow. Last month, a study attributed a high warming rate to greenhouse gas emissions being “at an all-time high”, along with reductions in the strength of aerosol cooling.

Even with current climate measures, a report last month suggested that Ireland is on track to miss its emissions reduction targets by a significant margin.

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Leigh Mc Gowran is a journalist with Silicon Republic