The world just sweated through its hottest day and week on record
It’s not just you – it has been hot lately. According to preliminary reports of global average temperatures, last week was the hottest week on record, with the record for hottest day broken several times in a row.
Following on from the hottest June on record, the first part of July has been a scorcher, as the Northern Hemisphere sweats through summer. Although different organizations use different tools and methods and therefore reach slightly different figures, multiple datasets are in agreement that records have been tumbling.
These reports all say that the average global temperature surpassed 17 °C (62.6 °F) for the first time last week. According to preliminary data from the Japan Meteorological Agency, Friday, July 7, was the hottest day on record, with the mercury spiking to 17.24 °C (63.03 °F). That broke the record set just three days earlier, of 17.23 °C (63.01 °F).
Another dataset, from the National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and analyzed by the University of Maine’s Climate Change Institute, followed a similar pattern. Monday, July 3, set a record of 17.01 °C (62.62 °F), which was shattered the very next day, recording 17.18 °C (62.92 °F). That held steady on Wednesday, July 5, before being broken again on Thursday, July 6, with a reading of 17.23 °C (63.01 °F).
Both datasets are consistent with preliminary data from the European Union’s Copernicus Climate Change Service, which also found that the seven days from July 3 to 9 made up the hottest week on record. The World Meteorological Organization (WMO) has yet to perform its own analyses on the data, but acknowledged the trend in a media briefing.
“According to various datasets from our partners in different parts of the world, the first week of July set a new record in terms of daily temperatures,” said Dr Omar Baddour, chief of climate monitoring at WMO. “The WMO and wider scientific community are closely watching these dramatic changes in different components of the climate system, and sea surface temperatures.”
The WMO reports that other climate records have recently been broken, too. Global sea surface temperatures reached record highs for this time of year in both May and June, including unprecedented highs in the North Atlantic Ocean. And although Antarctica is currently in the middle of its winter, its sea ice was 17% below average – its lowest extent for June since satellite observations began.
These newly set records aren’t expected to last long, either. The WMO recently reported clear signs that an El Niño is expected to develop in the coming months and last into 2024. This cyclical weather pattern is known for driving up global temperatures and reducing rainfall in many parts of the world. The second half of 2023 is looking ever more likely to make this one of the hottest years on record.