Earth’s average temperature reached an unofficial record high on Wednesday, matching the previous day’s peak, as climate-change-driven extremes continue to occur. According to the University of Maine’s Climate Reanalyzer, which utilizes satellite data and computer simulations, the average global temperature stood at 17.18 Celsius (62.9 degrees Fahrenheit). This figure follows Monday’s record of 17.01 Celsius (62.6 degrees Fahrenheit) and Tuesday’s matching record. Although not officially recognized as government records, these temperatures provide valuable insights into the current state of our planet’s climate.
While scientists typically rely on longer-term measurements to track global warming trends, these daily highs indicate that climate change propels us into unknown territory. Despite some countries experiencing colder weather than usual, this week saw high-temperature records shattered in locations like Quebec and Peru. When the temperature hit 32 degrees Celsius (90 degrees Fahrenheit), North Grenville, Ontario, converted ice hockey rinks into cooling centers. The extreme humidity made the temperature seem as hot as 38 degrees Celsius (100 degrees Fahrenheit).
Beijing, too, faced extreme heat, with nine consecutive days exceeding 35 degrees Celsius (95 degrees Fahrenheit). On Wednesday, as temperatures soared to 41 degrees Celsius (106 degrees Fahrenheit), all outdoor work was ordered to cease. In the United States, 38 million Americans were under heat alerts, highlighting the widespread impact of this heatwave.
Scientists have long warned that 2023 might experience record-breaking temperatures owing to human-caused climate change, largely fuelled by the combustion of fossil fuels. They also noted that the natural cooling phenomenon of La Nina has given way to El Nino, characterized by warming oceans, further exacerbating the situation. This new record proves global warming is steering us toward a hotter future.
One significant factor contributing to this week’s records is the exceptionally mild winter in the Antarctic, as observed in data from the Climate Reanalyzer. There were areas of the continent and the adjacent ocean that were 10–20°C (18–36°F) warmer than the 1979–2000 average. The fauna in the area is in danger, ice is melting, and sea levels are rising due to this warming trend, fueled by solid wind fronts over the Southern Ocean.
While the unofficial nature of the daily temperature records is acknowledged, scientists emphasize their value as a snapshot of our planet’s warming world. Given other data, these recent days will likely mark the hottest experience in several hundred years.
The repercussions of more frequent and intense heat waves are evident worldwide, disrupting lives and posing life-threatening conditions. The World Health Organization warns that climate change poses significant challenges to public health, potentially undoing 50 years of progress. Countries like India and Pakistan recently endured a deadly heatwave, claiming the lives of over 100 people. Fortunately, temperatures have subsided in the last week with the onset of monsoon rains.
As our planet faces these record-breaking temperatures, urgent action and global efforts are imperative to combat climate change and mitigate its impacts on human populations and the environment.