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Summer of 2023: Full of Surprises – How Did Extreme Weather Shake the World?

Summer of 2023: Full of Surprises – How Did Extreme Weather Shake the World?

The summer brought with it a relentless series of extreme weather events across the northern hemisphere, challenging our understanding of the climate. While it’s complex to directly attribute every incident to climate change, the rapid succession of broken meteorological records is alarming.

The UK experienced its hottest June on record, with an average mean temperature of 15.8C, exceeding the previous high by 0.9C. This significant increase is a clear indicator of changing climate patterns. In 72 out of 97 areas in the UK, new temperature highs were recorded. The Met Office stated that climate change doubled the likelihood of surpassing previous records. [1]

Globally, the first week of July saw an unprecedented high, with the planet’s average mean temperature reaching 17.23C, surpassing the 2016 record of 16.92C. This global heatwave was not isolated to any one region. [2]

In the Mediterranean, two intense heat waves, named Cerberus and Caronte, brought searing temperatures. Italian cities were put on red alert, and Rome saw tourists struggle in temperatures above 40C. Athens closed its famed Acropolis to protect visitors from extreme heat, and North African countries like Algeria and Tunisia saw temperatures soar to 48C. [2]

Greece’s wildfires, a direct consequence of the heat, emitted an alarming one megaton of CO2e. This is the highest emission for any July wildfire in the country, comparable to nearly two weeks of emissions from a city like London, as per 2019 data. [2]

Professor Petteri Taalas of the World Meteorological Organization highlighted that these conditions are the harsh reality of climate change. [3]

Typhoon Doksuri struck China and the Philippines with devastating force, causing over $15 billion in economic losses and leading to the evacuation of more than a million people. Beijing witnessed a record-breaking rainfall, breaking a 140-year-old record. [2]

In Hawaii, Maui faced a catastrophic fire, with 388 people reported dead or missing. Canada, too, experienced its worst wildfire season, with over 15.6 million hectares burned, an area larger than New York state or England. [2]

California, usually prone to wildfires, experienced a rare tropical storm, Hilary, which posed a significant flood risk to 26 million people and led to power outages across 25,000 households in Los Angeles. [2]

These events, from record-breaking temperatures to severe storms, are potent reminders of the escalating impact of climate change. As Professor Lizzie Kendon of the UK Met Office states, these are not distant predictions but current realities, urging immediate action in response to climate change. [2]

  1. Earth.com. (n.d.). June was the hottest on record for the UK, and the worst is yet to come. [online] Available at: https://www.earth.com/news/june-was-the-hottest-on-record-for-the-uk-and-the-worst-is-yet-to-come/ [Accessed 27 Nov. 2023].
  2. Rannard, G., Stallard, E., Climate, B.B.C. and reporters, S. (2023). The extreme summer weather that scorched and soaked the world – BBC News. [online] News. Available at: https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/resources/idt-8f0357f9-9013-4567-8407-be938c8c70cf.
  3. Harvey, F. (2023). World likely to breach 1.5C climate threshold by 2027, scientists warn. The Guardian. [online] 17 May. Available at: https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2023/may/17/global-heating-climate-crisis-record-temperatures-wmo-research.