HomeTop StoriesJuly was the warmest month ever recorded on Earth, EU climate service...

July was the warmest month ever recorded on Earth, EU climate service says, warning of “serious consequences”

Now that July’s blistering numbers are all in, the European Climate Monitoring Organization has made it official: July 2023 Earth was warmest month on record, and by a wide margin. The global average temperature of 62.51 degrees Fahrenheit in July was six-tenths of a degree higher than the previous record set in 2019, the Copernicus Climate Change Service, a division of the European Union’s space program, announced on Tuesday.

Normally, global temperature records are broken by hundredths or one-tenth of a degree, so the wide margin is unusual.

“These records have dire consequences for both humans and the planet exposed to increasingly frequent and intense extreme events,” says Copernicus Deputy Director Samantha Burgess. There have been deadly heat waves in the southwestern United States and Mexico, Europe and Asia. Scientific rapid studies blame human-induced climate change from the burning of coal, oil and natural gas.

“Anthropogenic [human-caused greenhouse gas] emissions are ultimately the main cause of these rising temperatures,” said Carlo Buontempo, director of the Copernicus service, when the preliminary data was revealed late last month. “Extreme weather that affected many millions of people in July is sadly the harsh reality of climate change and a taste of the future.”

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Days in July were hotter than previously recorded as of July 2, including what the World Meteorological Organization said was the “warmest week on record“worldwide.

“We are in uncharted territory and we can expect more records to be broken as El Nino develops and these impacts will extend into 2024,” said Christopher Hewitt, WMO director of Climate Services. “This is worrying news for the planet.”

It was so extra hot in July that Copernicus and the World Meteorological Organization unusual early announcement that it was probably the hottest month days before it ended. Tuesday’s calculations made it official.

The month was 2.7 degrees warmer than pre-industrial times. In 2015, the world’s countries agreed to try to avoid long-term warming — not individual months or even years, but decades — that’s 2.7 degrees warmer than pre-industrial times.

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Last month was 1.3 degrees warmer than the average July from 1991 to 2020, Copernicus said. The world’s oceans were generally 0.9 degrees warmer than the previous 30 years, while the North Atlantic was 1.9 degrees warmer than average. Antarctica reached record sea ice depths, 15% below average for this time of year.

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Copernicus records go back to 1940. The temperature record for July is said to be hotter than any month the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has recorded and their records go back to 1850. But scientists say it was actually the hottest in a much longer period.

“It’s an astonishing record and clearly makes it the hottest month on Earth for 10,000 years,” said Stefan Rahmstorf, a climate scientist at the Potsdam Institute for Climate Research in Germany, who was not part of the Copernicus team.

The Wider Image: Heat camera captures the torrid nature of a record heat wave in Phoenix
A tourist walks on a trail during a 27-day heat wave, with temperatures exceeding 110 degrees Fahrenheit, near Hole in the Rock, in Phoenix, Arizona, July 26, 2023, as seen in an image captured by a Flir One ProThermal camera, showing a surface temperature of 117°, according to the National Weather Service.


Rahmstorf cited studies using tree rings and other proxies showing that current times are the warmest since the beginning of the Holocene, about 10,000 years ago. There was an ice age before the Holocene began, so it would make sense to even say that this is the warmest on record in 120,000 years, he said.

“We shouldn’t worry about July because it’s a record, but because it won’t be a record for long,” said climate scientist Friederike Otto of Imperial College of London. “It’s an indicator of how much we’ve changed the climate. We live in a very different world, one that our societies are not adapted to live in.”

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