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2023 weather events shocking, Earth moving towards destruction

Weather Events 2023? Why 2023 is the hottest year on record and how the UN COP 28 climate talks aim to help.

By Wahid Bhat
New Update
2023 weather events shocking, Earth moving towards destruction

Climate change continues to pose a significant threat to life on Earth, with 2023 being recorded as the hottest year to date. This year has seen an increase in extreme weather events, including deadly heatwaves and floods, some regions experiencing both in quick succession.

A recent report published in Bioscience indicates that the severity of these extreme weather events in 2023 has surpassed expectations. Despite efforts to curb global warming emissions, key greenhouse gases reached record levels last year, and fossil fuel subsidies saw an increase.

This alarming assessment comes just ahead of the UN COP 28 climate talks scheduled to take place in the United Arab Emirates. The report emphasizes the need to view climate change not merely as an isolated environmental issue but as a systemic, existential threat.

Climate crisis worsens in 2023

The study analyzed data from 35 key indicators of Earth’s climate, finding that 20 of these reached record extremes this year. A temperature increase of approximately 1.2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels has led to a range of devastating and costly consequences.

The European Union’s Copernicus Climate Change Service has reported that they have recorded the three months leading up to September as the hottest period ever, potentially making it the warmest in about 120,000 years.

Weather events of 2023. Photo courtesy of U.S. Coast Guard via Wikimedia Commons

The report also highlighted that several climate-related records are set to be broken by significant margins in 2023, particularly ocean temperatures. These have absorbed almost all the extra heat caused by human carbon pollution and have reached unprecedented levels.

Potential serious impacts include threats to marine life and coral reefs and increased intensity of major tropical storms. This year also marked the onset of the warm El Niño weather phenomenon.

In 2023, there were almost no days with global average temperatures exceeding 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels. However, by mid-September this year, 38 such days have been recorded.

Climate impacts and extreme weather

Climate change is significantly contributing to human suffering, with climate-related impacts in 2022 including a billion-dollar flood in the United States and an increase in extremely hot days. While the area burned by wildfires globally decreased by 28% between 2021 and 2022, wildfire activity in the United States rose by 6.3% over the same period.

Experts expect many climate impacts to intensify in the coming years, and we may have already experienced abrupt increases in certain types of extreme weather.

In 2023, climate change likely contributed to several major extreme weather events and disasters. These events demonstrate how climate extremes are affecting areas that have not typically been prone to such extremes. For example, severe flooding in northern China killed at least 33 people.

Other recent disasters include deadly flash floods and landslides in northern India, record-breaking heat waves in the United States, and an exceptionally intense Mediterranean storm that killed thousands of people, primarily in Libya.

These impacts continue to accelerate and urgently require more funding to compensate for climate-related loss and damage in developing countries. The United Nations established a new loss and damage global fund at COP27, promising a significant development. However, its success requires robust support from wealthy countries.

Recent climate disasters since Nov 2022

Timeline Climate Disaster Climate Change Impact
Nov–Dec 2022 Record-breaking heat waves in Argentina and Paraguay Heatwaves made 60 times more likely due to climate change
Dec 2022–Mar 2023 Flooding in Western US Climate change may increase likelihood of such floods
Feb 2023 Cyclone Gabrielle in New Zealand Warming climate may have contributed to intense rainfall
Mar–May 2023 Record-breaking temperatures in Asia Climate change likely partly responsible for extreme heat
Jan–Jul 2023 Intense wildfires in Canada Climate change may be a factor in extreme wildfires
May 2023 Tropical cyclone Mocha in Myanmar Climate change may intensify tropical storms
May–Jun 2023 Tropical storm Mawar in Guam Climate change may increase cyclone intensity
Jun 2023 Deadly heatwave in the US Climate change leading to more frequent and longer heatwaves
Jul 2023 Heavy rainfall and flooding in Japan Climate change likely intensifying heavy rainfall events
Jul 2023 Flash floods in northern India Climate change impacting monsoon variability and causing floods
Jun–Aug 2023 Extreme heatwave in the US Climate change making extreme heat more likely
Jul–Aug 2023 Heavy rainfall and flooding in Beijing, China Climate change potentially causing more intense flooding
Aug 2023 Catastrophic wildfires in Hawaii Climate change may have contributed to conditions for fires
Sep 2023 Storm Daniel flooding in Libya and SE Europe Climate change may be increasing storm intensity
Weather events of 2023


Between 2021 and 2022, the rate of global tree cover loss declined by 9.7% to 22.8 million hectares per year. Similarly, the rate of forest loss in the Brazilian Amazon decreased by 11.3% to 1.16 million hectares per year, likely due to the election of a new president in Brazil and several recent legal decrees. However, despite pledges by over 100 world leaders at COP26 in 2021, we are not on track to end and reverse deforestation by 2030.

Forests are increasingly threatened by climate feedback loops involving processes such as insect damage, dieback, and wildfire. For instance, record-setting wildfires in Canada, which were partly related to climate change, burned 16.6 million hectares this year as of September 13th.

Weather events of 2023. Photo Credit: rawpixel.com 

These fires resulted in emissions of more than a gigaton of carbon dioxide, which is significant considering that Canada’s total greenhouse gas emissions in 2021 were roughly 0.67 gigatons of carbon dioxide equivalent.

It is uncertain how quickly post-fire recovery can reabsorb such emissions, and the real risk exists that increasing fire severity in a warming future may cause non-recoverable carbon loss.

Global greenhouse gases and temperature

Based on the statistics for 2023, three key greenhouse gases - carbon dioxide, methane, and nitrous oxide - have all reached record levels. The global average carbon dioxide concentration is now approximately 420 parts per million, significantly exceeding the proposed planetary boundary of 350 parts per million. Furthermore, 2023 is set to be one of the hottest years on record.

While fossil fuel-related greenhouse gas emissions are the primary cause of rising temperatures, a global decline in sulfur dioxide emissions is likely contributing as well. Sulfur dioxide forms sulfates in the atmosphere, which are the strongest anthropogenic cooling agent, masking part of the greenhouse gas warming.

Sea ice

Ocean acidity, glacier thickness, and the mass of ice in Greenland have all reached record lows, while sea level rise and ocean heat content have hit record highs. The increase in heat content and the rapid rise in sea surface temperatures are particularly concerning due to their potential impacts, including loss of sea life, coral reef bleaching, and increased intensity of large tropical storms.

Weather events of 2023. Photo Credit: @daspader/Commons Attribution

There are also growing concerns about the potential collapse of the Atlantic meridional overturning circulation within this century, possibly between 2025 and 2095. This could significantly alter global precipitation and temperature patterns, leading to potentially harmful consequences for ecosystems and society, including reduced natural carbon sinks.

Experts' advice

In light of recent events and trends, scientists continue to issue specific warnings and recommendations on topics ranging from food security to climate justice. Coordinated efforts in these areas could support a broader agenda focused on holistic and equitable climate policy.

Economic growth, as conventionally pursued, is unlikely to enable us to achieve our social, climate, and biodiversity goals. The main challenge lies in the difficulty of separating economic growth from harmful environmental impacts. While technological advancements and efficiency improvements can contribute to some degree of separation, they often fall short in mitigating the overall ecological footprint of economic activities.

The impacts vary greatly by wealth; in 2019, the top 10% of emitters were responsible for 48% of global emissions, whereas the bottom 50% were responsible for just 12%. Therefore, we need to transition our economy to a system that supports meeting basic needs for all people instead of excessive consumption by the wealthy.

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