2023 set to be Earth’s warmest year on record


Global climate records have been shattered in 2023, with temperatures in the atmosphere and ocean at the warmest levels ever observed, according to a new report. 

The World Meteorological Organization (WMO) released a provisional State of the Global Climate report on November 30 to coincide with the start of the COP28 United Nations Climate Change conference in Dubai.   

While the WMO’s final State of the Global Climate 2023 report will come out in 2024, this week’s report provides an interim update on the state of the global climate to inform discussions at COP28. Below are some of the key points from the report: 

Greenhouse gases  

The global average temperature has been gradually increasing in recent decades, primarily in response to increasing concentrations of atmospheric greenhouse gases from human activities. 

These global greenhouse gases continue to increase, with the concentrations of carbon dioxide, methane and nitrous oxide observed reaching record high levels in 2022. These greenhouse gas concentrations have continued to rise this year, contributing to the record-breaking warmth across the globe. 

Atmospheric temperature 

This year is on track to be the world’s warmest year on record, with new data from the WMO showing that the mean near-surface temperature so far in 2023 (January to October) was 1.4°C warmer than the pre-industrial average (between 1850-1900). The size of this anomaly up to October means 2023 is virtually certain to be the planet’s warmest year in 174 years of records. 

The map below shows that the ten years leading up to 2023 (as of October) have been the warmest 10-year period on record.  

Image: World Daily surface air temperature since 1979 showing 2023 (black) and 2022 (orange) and previous years (grey), Source: climatereanalyzer.org ,Climate change institute, University of Maine  

This year’s global mean temperature should comfortably beat the joint warmest years on record, which were 2016 and 2020.  

Ocean Temperature 

The ocean heat in 2022 reached its highest level since records began 65 years ago. The black line below shows the 2023 Sea Surface Temperatures (SSTs) have been tracking above the previous record for most of the year. 

2023 set to be Earth’s warmest year on record

Image: World Daily Sea Surface temperature since 1981, showing 2023 (black) and 2022 (orange) and previous years (grey), Source: climatereanalyzer.org ,Climate change institute, University of Maine 

 The ocean covers around 70% of the Earth’s surface and absorbs heat and greenhouse gases. While the absorption of heat in the ocean can slow the warming of the atmosphere, the warming oceans have increased the sea level and ice melt significantly. 


Sea Ice 

Antartica has seen record low sea ice extent since satellites began observing the ice in 1979. 

The images below shows that on Wednesday, November 29, the Antarctic and Artic Sea Ice extent is much lower than the median ice edge from the 1981 to 2010 period. 


 2023 set to be Earth’s warmest year on record

 Images: Antarctic (top) and Artic (bottom) daily sea ice extent, showing ice (white shade) and the 1981 to 2010 average extent (orange) Source: National Snow and Ice Data Centre 

It was also reported that the glaciers in western North America, the European Alps and Switzerland have all experienced extreme melt. 

Sea level rise 

The melting of glaciers and ice sheets has meant that the global mean sea level in 2023 reached a record high for the satellite era, which because in 1979. The rate of sea level rise has doubled in the past decade compared to the decade between 1993 and 2003. 

Extreme weather 

The WMO’s report also mentioned the extreme weather that has impacted many areas of the world in 2023: 

  • Extreme heat has affected many parts of the world, including record-breaking heatwaves in Europe in July and August 
  • Wildfires in Hawaii, Canada and Europe  
  • Flooding in Greece, Bulgaria, Türkiye, and Libya  

The WMO’s full report will come out in the first half of next year.  

Are you protecting your enterprise from the increasingly volatile weather risk? 

You can’t control the shifting climate, but you can gain precision insights to optimise your response.

Weatherzone Business, a DTN company, has been providing weather intelligence and innovative forecasting systems to Australian businesses since 1998.

We have intuitive solutions that serve industries from aviation, mining and energy right through to marine, and everything in between. Rest assured, if we don’t already have a product to address your business’ weather needs, we will work tirelessly to create one.

With our network of global partners, we provide trusted, industry-leading services that can mitigate weather risk, keep your valuable staff and assets safe, and ensure you are operating at peak efficiency. For more information, please contact us at business@weatherzone.com.au.

Latest news

Satisfy your weather obsession with these news headlines from around the nation, and the world.

At last, some snow for hydropower

Much-needed snowfalls are coming to Australia’s alpine region this weekend, good news for the hydropower industry in Australia. We’ve written several times this week about the strong cold airmass with Antarctic origins which is tracking towards southeastern Australia from this weekend onwards. The airmass will linger for an unusually long period, and will be cold enough […]

Sudden stratospheric warming event underway – here’s what it means for Australian weather

A rare sudden stratospheric warming event is beginning to occur above Antarctica, and it may influence Australia’s weather in the coming weeks. The term sudden stratospheric warming (SSW) refers to an abrupt increase in air temperature high above either of Earth’s polar regions, typically on the magnitude of tens of degrees Celsius in a few […]

Ferocious Tasman Low to hit southeast Australia next week

A major polar outbreak in southeastern Australia next week will produce a powerful low pressure system that is likely to bring severe weather to several states. A large pool of cold air that originated over waters near Antarctica will spread across southeastern Australia from this weekend into next week. This polar air mass will cause […]

Snow likely a long way north of the mountains

One thing we haven’t seen so far this winter in Australia – and which we barely saw through the whole of last winter – is snow in areas beyond the alpine regions of NSW, Victoria and Tasmania. But snow looks highly possible over a period of several days beginning early next week in places like: […]