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Global temperatures continue to rise: April 2023 among warmest on record

A recent analysis by the Copernicus Climate Change Service (C3S), April 2023 was the fourth warmest April globally.

By Ground report
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A recent analysis by the Copernicus Climate Change Service (C3S), April 2023 was the fourth warmest April globally. The month was 0.32 degrees Celsius hotter than the 1991-2020 average, and temperatures across Europe showed a significant contrast.

The eastern equatorial Pacific experienced above-average temperatures, which could indicate a transition to El Niño conditions and warmer global temperatures, noted Samantha Burgess, C3S Deputy Director.

Despite being colder than the warmest April on record, April 2016, by about 0.2°C, it was comparable in temperature (within 0.02°C) to April 2017 and April 2018.

The month saw above-average temperatures in southwestern Europe, with Spain and Portugal experiencing their highest temperatures in April. However, a swath stretching from the UK to south-eastern Europe experienced cooler than average temperatures.

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The figure illustrates the monthly anomalies of global-mean and European-mean surface air temperatures relative to the average temperature of 1991-2020. Data source: ERA5. Credit: Copernicus Climate Change Service/ECMWF.

While some regions experienced cooler than usual temperatures, other areas experienced significantly warmer temperatures. Central Asia surrounding the Caspian Sea, parts of Africa, Southeast Asia and Japan, and northern North America all experienced much warmer than average temperatures. On the other hand, Alaska, Mongolia, the Arabian Peninsula, India and Australia all recorded cooler-than-average temperatures.

The Copernicus Climate Change Service published a graph showing monthly global and European mean surface air temperature anomalies relative to 1991-2020, from January 1979 to April 2023. The graph shows the darker colored bars indicating the month of April.

These temperature patterns have significant implications for the planet, particularly in terms of the impacts on human health, agriculture, and ecosystems. The findings of this analysis will be important to policymakers and researchers seeking to understand and address the challenges posed by climate change.

Warm Temperatures Continue in 2023

The year 2023 is proving to be a warm one so far, with above-average air temperatures recorded in the first three months. March 2023 saw some weather fluctuations, with the world experiencing the second warmest joint March on record and Antarctic sea ice reaching its second-lowest extent.

February 2023 was also warmer than average, coming in as the fifth warmest February with a global temperature anomaly of 0.29 °C above the 1991-2020 average for the month. January 2023 was the third warmest January on record.

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Average (left) surface air temperature and (right) soil moisture (volumetric content of the top 7 cm) percentile ranking for April 2023. Data source: ERA5 Credit: Copernicus Climate Change Service/ECMWF.

In March 2023, Europe experienced a stark contrast in temperatures, with southwestern Europe recording its highest April temperatures and the Nordic countries, western Russia and Morocco also recording high temperatures. Above-average temperatures were observed over most of the ocean surface, with the Weddell Sea, the North Pacific, and the Humboldt Current in the equatorial eastern Pacific being particularly warm.

This rise in temperatures in the equatorial eastern Pacific is an early sign of a possible transition to El Niño conditions, as nearly three years of below-average La Niña temperatures came to an end, according to the analysis. With April 2023 being the fourth warmest April on record globally, the trend of warmer-than-average temperatures appears to be continuing.

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