August 2023 Selected Climate Anomalies and Events Map

Temperature

Coinciding with the release of the January 2023 Global Climate Report, the NOAA Global Surface Temperature (NOAAGlobalTemp) dataset version 5.1.0 replaced version 5.0.0. This new version includes complete global coverage and an extension of the data record back in time an additional 30 years to January 1850. While anomalies and ranks might differ slightly from what was reported previously, the main conclusions regarding global climate change are very similar to the previous version. Please see our Commonly Asked Questions Document and web story for additional information.

NOAA's National Centers for Environmental Information calculates the global temperature anomaly every month based on preliminary data generated from authoritative datasets of temperature observations from around the globe. The major dataset, NOAAGlobalTemp version 5.1.0, updated in 2023, uses comprehensive data collections of increased global area coverage over both land and ocean surfaces. NOAAGlobalTempv5.1.0 is a reconstructed dataset, meaning that the entire period of record is recalculated each month with new data. Based on those new calculations, the new historical data can bring about updates to previously reported values. These factors, together, mean that calculations from the past may be superseded by the most recent data and can affect the numbers reported in the monthly climate reports. The most current reconstruction analysis is always considered the most representative and precise of the climate system, and it is publicly available through Climate at a Glance.

Note: At the time of this report's publication, we are aware of a potential issue with data from two buoys in the Northern Hemisphere. We are working to address the issue, but in the meantime we do not believe global temperatures in the report are affected in any significant way.


August 2023

The August global surface temperature was 1.25°C (2.25°F) above the 20th-century average of 15.6°C (60.1°F), making it the warmest August on record. This marked the first time an August temperature exceeded 1.0°C (1.8°F) above the long-term average. August 2023 was 0.29°C (0.52°F) warmer than the previous August record from 2016, but the anomaly was 0.10°C (0.18°F) lower than the all-time highest monthly temperature anomaly on record (March 2016). However, the August 2023 temperature anomaly was the third-highest anomaly of any month on record. August 2023 marked the 45th-consecutive August and the 534th-consecutive month with temperatures at least nominally above the 20th-century average.

For the fifth consecutive month, global ocean surface temperature hit a record high. El Niño conditions that emerged in June continued into August, and NOAA's Climate Prediction Center issued a statement announcing a greater than 95% chance that El Niño will continue through the Northern Hemisphere winter. Globally, August 2023 set a record for the highest monthly sea surface temperature anomaly (+1.03°C or +1.85°F) of any month in NOAA's 174-year record.

Temperatures were above average throughout most of South America, Africa, Asia, North America, the Arctic and Oceania. Parts of southern North America, central South America, western and central Africa, central, southern, and eastern Asia, and northwestern and eastern Oceania experienced record-warm temperatures this month. Sea surface temperatures were above average across much of the northern, western, and southeastern Pacific, the Atlantic and the Indian Oceans. Record-warm temperatures covered nearly 13% of the world's surface this August, which was the highest August percentage since the start of records in 1951.

Temperatures were near to cooler than average across parts of the western and northeastern U.S., northeastern Russia and Antarctica. Sea surface temperatures were near to below average over parts of the southeastern and eastern tropical Pacific. Less than 1% of the world's surface had a record-cold August.

A smoothed map of blended land and sea surface temperature anomalies is also available.

North America, Asia, Africa, and South America each had their warmest August on record. South America had its highest monthly temperature anomaly of any month on record at +2.40°C (+4.32°F).

  • Peru had its warmest August on record.
  • August in Japan ranked warmest on record.
  • Hong Kong recorded its warmest August on record.
  • Turkey recorded its second-warmest August on record.
  • August in Israel ranked fifth warmest since records began in 1950.
  • The Arctic had its warmest August on record.
  • The Caribbean region had its warmest August on record.
  • It was a record-warm August for the Gulf of Mexico.
  • August in the contiguous U.S. ranked ninth warmest on record.

Europe and Oceania each had their second-warmest August.

  • Spain tied 2003 for its warmest August on record, and the Spanish Peninsula and Balearic Islands sweltered under a heatwave for 16 days in August.
  • August in Portugal ranked fifth warmest on record.
  • Italy recorded its 14th-warmest August on record.
  • August in Switzerland ranked among the ten warmest on record.
  • August in Estonia was 1.3°C warmer than the long-term average.
  • Latvia had its 8th-warmest August on record.
  • Averaged as a country, Australia had its second-warmest August since records began in 1910.
  • Meanwhile, New Zealand had its coolest August in seven years.
August Ranks and Records
AugustAnomalyRank
(out of 174 years)
Records
°C°FYear(s)°C°F
Global
Land+1.72+3.10Warmest1st2023+1.72+3.10
Coolest174th1856-0.74-1.33
Ocean+1.03+1.85Warmest1st2023+1.03+1.85
Coolest174th1904-0.46-0.83
Land and Ocean+1.25+2.25Warmest1st2023+1.25+2.25
Coolest174th1911-0.44-0.79
Northern Hemisphere
Land+1.98+3.56Warmest1st2023+1.98+3.56
Coolest174th1856-0.95-1.71
Ocean+1.37+2.47Warmest1st2023+1.37+2.47
Coolest174th1904-0.61-1.10
Land and Ocean+1.63+2.93Warmest1st2023+1.63+2.93
Coolest174th1912-0.67-1.21
Southern Hemisphere
Land+1.13+2.03Warmest10th1988+2.17+3.91
Coolest165th1958-1.11-2.00
Ocean+0.80+1.44Warmest1st2023+0.80+1.44
Coolest174th1911-0.38-0.68
Land and Ocean+0.86+1.55Warmest1st2023+0.86+1.55
Coolest174th1911, 1924-0.38-0.68
Antarctic
Land and Ocean-0.40-0.72Warmest159th1988+2.56+4.61
Coolest16th2001-1.51-2.72
Arctic
Land and Ocean+2.27+4.09Warmest1st2023+2.27+4.09
Coolest174th1870-1.01-1.82

500 mb maps

In the atmosphere, 500-millibar height pressure anomalies correlate well with temperatures at the Earth's surface. The average position of the upper-level ridges of high pressure and troughs of low pressure—depicted by positive and negative 500-millibar height anomalies on the map—is generally reflected by areas of positive and negative temperature anomalies at the surface, respectively.

hgtanomaly-global-202308.png

June–August 2023

The June–August 2023 global surface temperature was 1.15°C (2.07°F) above the 20th-century average. This ranks as the warmest June–August period in the 174-year record. The past ten June–August periods have been the warmest such periods on record.

The June–August period is defined as the Northern Hemisphere's meteorological summer and the Southern Hemisphere's meteorological winter. The Northern Hemisphere summer 2023 temperature ranked warmest on record at 1.44°C (2.59°F) above average. June–August 2023 marked the 45th consecutive warmer-than-average summer in the Northern Hemisphere. The Southern Hemisphere winter 2023 temperature was also the warmest on record at 0.85°C (1.53°F) above average, and marked the 55th consecutive warmer-than-average winter in the Southern Hemisphere.

Asia, Africa, North America, South America and Oceania had their warmest June–August periods on record.

  • Japan had its warmest summer since records began in 1898.
  • Hong Kong had its warmest summer on record.
  • Winter in Australia ranked warmest on record.
  • New Zealand recorded its fifth-warmest winter since records began in 1909.
  • The contiguous U.S. had its 15th-warmest summer on record.
  • The Caribbean Islands had their warmest summer on record.

Europe had its third-warmest summer on record.

  • France had its fourth-warmest summer on record.
  • Summer 2023 in Italy ranked eighth warmest on record.
  • Switzerland had its fifth-warmest summer on record.
  • The United Kingdom reported provisionally its eight-warmest summer since records began in 1884.
  • Germany reported its 27th consecutive warmer-than-average summer.

A smoothed map of blended land and sea surface temperature anomalies is also available.

Over the land surface, temperatures for the season were above average throughout much of North America, South America, Europe, Africa, Asia, Oceania, and the Arctic. Parts of eastern Oceania, central, southern, and eastern Asia, western and central Africa, South America, and southern and northern North America experienced record-warm temperatures this June–August season. Temperatures were near or below average across parts of the central and eastern U.S., western Russia, Antarctica, and India and Pakistan.

Sea surface temperatures for the season were above average across much of the northern, western, and central-eastern Pacific (off the coast of northern South America), and the Atlantic and Indian Oceans. Sea surface temperatures were near or below average across parts of the equatorial eastern and southeastern Pacific Ocean.

June–August Ranks and Records
June–AugustAnomalyRank
(out of 174 years)
Records
°C°FYear(s)°C°F
Global
Land+1.51+2.72Warmest1st2023+1.51+2.72
Coolest174th1884-0.68-1.22
Ocean+0.99+1.78Warmest1st2023+0.99+1.78
Coolest174th1904-0.46-0.83
Land and Ocean+1.15+2.07Warmest1st2023+1.15+2.07
Coolest174th1911-0.43-0.77
Northern Hemisphere
Land+1.69+3.04Warmest1st2023+1.69+3.04
Coolest174th1856-0.85-1.53
Ocean+1.26+2.27Warmest1st2023+1.26+2.27
Coolest174th1904-0.57-1.03
Land and Ocean+1.44+2.59Warmest1st2023+1.44+2.59
Coolest174th1884, 1913-0.49-0.88
Southern Hemisphere
Land+1.11+2.00Warmest3rd2011+1.29+2.32
Coolest172nd1958-0.86-1.55
Ocean+0.80+1.44Warmest1st2023+0.80+1.44
Coolest174th1911-0.41-0.74
Land and Ocean+0.85+1.53Warmest1st2023+0.85+1.53
Coolest174th1911-0.42-0.76
Antarctic
Land and Ocean-0.07-0.13Warmest119th2011+1.14+2.05
Coolest56th1958-1.51-2.72
Ties: 1890, 1940
Arctic
Land and Ocean+1.69+3.04Warmest1st2023+1.69+3.04
Coolest174th1879-1.03-1.85

Year-to-date Temperature: January–August 2023

The January–August global surface temperature ranked second warmest in the 174-year record at 1.06°C (1.91°F) above the 1901–2000 average of 14.0°C (57.3°F). January–August 2016—another year with El Niño conditions—holds the record for the warmest such period on record by just 0.03°C (0.05°F) above the current year-to-date anomaly. Global ocean surface temperature during this January–August 2023 period ranked warmest on record. According to NCEI's statistical analysis, there is a 95% probability of 2023 ranking among the two warmest years on record.

January to August was characterized by warmer-than-average conditions across much of eastern, southern, and northern North America, South America, Europe, Africa, the Arctic, northern and southern Oceania, and Asia. Sea surface temperatures were above-average throughout most of the northern, western, southwestern, and subtropical eastern Pacific, central and southern Atlantic, and Indian Oceans. The Southern Hemisphere had its warmest year-to-date period, while the Northern Hemisphere had its third-warmest such period.

Temperatures were near or below average across parts of western North America and western Alaska, India and Pakistan, Greenland, and Antarctica. Sea surface temperatures were near to below average across parts of the southeastern and central-east Pacific and northern Atlantic Oceans.

A smoothed map of blended land and sea surface temperature anomalies is also available.

January–August Ranks and Records
January–AugustAnomalyRank
(out of 174 years)
Records
°C°FYear(s)°C°F
Global
Land+1.54+2.77Warmest3rd2016+1.74+3.13
Coolest172nd1885-0.77-1.39
Ocean+0.85+1.53Warmest1st2023+0.85+1.53
Coolest174th1904, 1911-0.47-0.85
Land and Ocean+1.06+1.91Warmest2nd2016+1.09+1.96
Coolest173rd1911-0.49-0.88
Northern Hemisphere
Land+1.83+3.29Warmest3rd2016+2.11+3.80
Coolest172nd1885-0.89-1.60
Ocean+0.99+1.78Warmest1st2023+0.99+1.78
Coolest174th1904-0.52-0.94
Land and Ocean+1.35+2.43Warmest3rd2016+1.42+2.56
Coolest172nd1917-0.58-1.04
Southern Hemisphere
Land+0.88+1.58Warmest8th2019+1.05+1.89
Coolest167th1917-0.70-1.26
Ocean+0.75+1.35Warmest1st2023+0.75+1.35
Coolest174th1911-0.46-0.83
Land and Ocean+0.78+1.40Warmest1st2023+0.78+1.40
Coolest174th1911-0.45-0.81
Antarctic
Land and Ocean+0.04+0.07Warmest51st2007+0.78+1.40
Coolest124th1962-0.48-0.86
Ties: 1882
Arctic
Land and Ocean+2.07+3.73Warmest6th2016+2.94+5.29
Coolest169th1966-1.34-2.41

Precipitation

The maps shown below represent precipitation percent of normal (left, using a base period of 1961–1990) and precipitation percentiles (right, using the period of record) based on the GHCN dataset of land surface stations.

August 2023

Above-average August precipitation was observed across parts of the western and northeastern United States, northern Europe, western Russia and scattered areas in eastern Asia. Meanwhile, drier-than-average conditions were present across much of the southwestern United States, southwestern Europe, India and Pakistan, central South America, Brazil and Australia.

Global Precipitation Climatology Project (GPCP)

The following analysis is based upon the Global Precipitation Climatology Project (GPCP) Interim Climate Data Record. It is provided courtesy of the GPCP Principal Investigator team at the University of Maryland.

August and Seasonal Highlights:
  • The ongoing El Niño helped intensify the eastern Pacific Intertropical Convergence Zone (ITCZ) and provided dry conditions over most of the Maritime Continent.
  • The South Asian monsoon was dry over India and wet over China.
  • The west coast of the U.S. was wetter than normal with Hurricane Hilary drenching southern California, while the rest of the U.S. Southwest was dry, along with Mexico and Central America.
  • The June–August season reflected El Niño in the tropical Pacific region and had a very high global precipitation total.

The global precipitation map for August 2023 (Fig. 1, top panel) shows a very active tropical region with an intense ITCZ across the eastern Pacific just above the equator, and a broad area of heavy rain in the Western Pacific with multiple imbedded monthly rainfall peaks, most associated with tropical cyclones. The usual South Asian monsoon rainfall maximum covers the Indian sub-continent and eastward through Indochina and South China.

These and other seasonal climatological features across the globe remain relatively constant year-to-year, but are modified from their climatological mean in subtle ways related to the presence or absence of storms, inter-annual influences such as El Niño/La Niña, and even climate change. The middle and bottom panels of Fig. 1 display the anomalies and percentage anomalies for the month (from the climatological means) for August 2023. The ITCZ in the eastern Pacific was strikingly intense with strong, positive anomalies from the central ocean to the South American coast. A narrow band of negative anomalies lie just to the north of the narrow band of positives, indicating a slight shift southward of the climatological ITCZ position. In the western Pacific, the anomaly patterns showed a pattern mostly related to wanderings of tropical cyclones which stayed offshore for the most part, although Typhoon Lan hit southern Japan with heavy rain and flooding.

To the west, much of southeast Asia and the Maritime Continent (New Guinea, Borneo, etc.) had an August rain deficit. That dry feature extends westward over most of the Indian sub-continent, although a rain surplus exists over Bangladesh and over most of China. Heavy rains in northern Vietnam caused landslides there. The general pattern of dryness over the Maritime Continent and above-average rainfall over the central/eastern tropical Pacific is related to the ongoing El Niño, whose Niño 3.4 ST anomaly index increased again this month up to +1.3. Fig. 2 shows the August composite for El Niño conditions, along with a repeat of the anomaly pattern for this August. Over the areas already mentioned, there is a general agreement between the two plots and this August's dryness in Australia and in northern South America also match. However, just to the north of the ITCZ in the Pacific a large area of dryness exists in Fig. 2 for this August, while the composite shows a wide area of positive anomalies typical of past El Niño conditions. The devastating wildfires in Hawaii in early August were associated with the ongoing drought there, which is not typical of El Niño conditions.

Over Africa, the anomaly map shows a pattern of the normal broad rainfall feature with a northern half rainier than normal and the southern half drier than normal, indicating a northerly shift. South America is dry in the north as already mentioned, with a varying pattern to the south, somewhat aligned with the El Niño composite. In Europe, above-average rainfall helped alleviate a general drought, except over Iberia, although floods did occur in eastern Europe (Slovenia, Georgia).

The usually relatively dry west coast of the U.S. had above average rainfall, including an unusual landfall of eastern Pacific Hurricane Hilary taking a northerly course and hitting southern California and Nevada with 10" of rain and associated flooding, even in the desert. Further to the east, across the rest of the southwest, heat and drought conditions prevailed. Wildfires were seen in Louisiana. These very dry conditions extended to the south through most of Mexico and Central America, causing low water conditions in the Panama Canal that affected ship traffic. Further to the east, tropical cyclones had rainfall impacts. Tropical Storm Franklin moved across the island of Dominica and continued north, leaving a rainfall trail east of the U.S. And at the end of the month, Hurricane Idalia developed in the Caribbean, intensified in the Gulf, and hit the Big Bend area of Florida and caused flooding from rain in Georgia and South Carolina.

The mean precipitation for the June–August 2023 season (and the associated anomaly pattern) is shown in Fig. 3. The last three months have had the highest mean global surface temperature since these types of estimates have been made, a result related to global warming combined with the ongoing El Niño. The mean map for the season (top panel) displays the usual climatological features, while the anomaly map (bottom panel) reflects the gradually intensifying El Niño during these past three months. The most prominent anomaly feature is, again, the narrow positive ITCZ feature running across the entire Pacific from above New Guinea to South America. Northern South America was very dry, as was most of both the North and South Pacific outside the ITCZ, with Hawaii sitting in the middle of the dry zone. The U.S. west coast and northwest were wet, but the southwest U.S. and Central America were dry.

Looking at the seasonal total global precipitation estimates for this past season in comparison with past years (Fig. 4) shows that the global precipitation this past season (2.76 mm/d) is near the record global peak value for this season, mainly related to a high ocean mean value (2.84 mm/d).

Drought in August 2023

Drought information is based on global drought indicators available at the Global Drought Information System website, and media reports summarized by the National Drought Mitigation Center.

August Highlights:
  • Beneficial precipitation fell across some of the world's drought areas during August 2023, especially over Europe and China, but other drought areas experienced another drier-than-normal month.
  • Record-warm temperatures occurred on many continents during August, increasing evapotranspiration which exacerbated drought in the dry areas and, in some cases, countered the beneficial precipitation.
  • August 2023 was the warmest August in the 1910-2023 NOAA/NCEI record for Africa, North and South America, and Asia. It continued dry over drought-plagued parts of the Americas, Africa, Australia, the Indian subcontinent, the western Mediterranean, and much of Russia.
  • A significant portion of the world's agricultural lands was still suffering from low soil moisture and groundwater levels, and satellite observations showed stressed vegetation on all continents.
  • The GEOGLAM Crop Monitor indicated that agriculture was most threatened in parts of the Americas, East Africa, southern Asia, and parts of Australia. The Famine Early Warning System Network (FEWSNet) revealed significant food insecurity continuing in parts of Central and South America, Southwest Asia, and much of Africa.

Above-normal precipitation fell across central to northern Europe during August 2023, while southwest and southeastern portions were drier than normal. The continent had the second warmest August, third warmest summer (June–August), and second warmest year-to-date (January-August) in the 1910-2023 NOAA/NCEI record. The Standardized Precipitation Index (SPI) showed drier-than-normal conditions at longer time scales (out to 12 months) along the Mediterranean coast and in parts of the north, with more extensive dryness from Spain to Poland at 24- to 60-month time scales. When the excessive warmth is considered, the Standardized Precipitation Evapotranspiration Index (SPEI) showed more severe and extensive drought in these areas and at these time scales. Soils continued dry from Portugal to northern Europe, while the satellite-based (GRACE) indicator of groundwater revealed low groundwater across most of Europe. Satellite observations of vegetative health (Vegetative Health Index, VHI) revealed stressed vegetation over parts of France, the British Isles, and Scandinavia. The European Combined Drought Indicator showed some level of drought from the Iberian Peninsula to Scandinavia, with 26.5% of the EU-27 territory in Drought Watch, Warning, or Alert conditions, which is less than last month. According to media reports (Reuters), Catalonia's authorities imposed new water usage restrictions on 22 villages around the Darnius Boadella reservoir in northeastern Spain, near the French border, as the aquifer supplying them was depleted. In southern Spain, mango and avocado cultivation has for many years been a mainstay of the agricultural sector in Malaga province. The prolonged drought, however, is drastically reducing production, with losses of up to 85% in the case of mango and 60% in the case of avocado. In the Axarquia area, restrictions to save water are resulting in irrigation cuts, which are incompatible with crops that require a lot of water. Spain's food and drink industry made a rare call for the government to grant it priority access to water amid the drought that is threatening the country's food supplies. Portugal's Northern Farmers and Shepherds Association revealed in August that 50% of members have reduced their flocks and 20% have stopped farming altogether due to a lack of water and a shortage of cereals to feed the animals. EuroNews Green reported that, despite spring rain, aquifers across Europe remained very low. Reuters noted that drought in Canada and bad weather in Europe are damaging crops of durum wheat and reducing supplies available to flour millers and food companies. Italy's government called a crisis meeting in May as prices for the staple food jumped by more than double the national inflation rate. With global production of durum wheat headed for a 22-year low, Italy's famed pasta makers have had to turn to unusual suppliers such as Turkey for their main ingredient.

August was drier than normal across much of western and northern Asia, the Indian subcontinent, and Southeast Asia. The SPI showed wet conditions across East Asia and interior parts of the continent. But temperatures were warmer than normal across almost the entire continent, with Asia having the warmest August in the 114-year NOAA/NCEI record. The continent also had the warmest July-August and June-August period, and fourth warmest year to date. The excessive August heat increased evapotranspiration, which exacerbated drought in the dry areas and reduced the effectiveness of the precipitation in the wet areas, as seen in the SPEI. The SPI shows prolonged dryness in the Southwest and Southeast at longer time periods out to the last 12 months. When the effects of the persistent abnormally high temperatures are considered, the SPEI shows more intense drought in these areas as well as parts of interior Asia and northeast Siberia, and much of western Russia. These areas have dryness evident in both the SPI and SPEI at time periods extending back to the last 72 months. Satellite-based (GRACE) indicators of soil moisture and groundwater reveal widespread dry conditions across most of the continent. Satellite observations of vegetative health (VHI) revealed very stressed vegetation in Southwest Asia and interior areas (near southern Mongolia), but stressed vegetation was also becoming evident across Russia and South Asia. Drought conditions were confirmed over northern, eastern, and coastal southwestern parts of India on the India Drought Monitor, covering about 22.9% of the nation, which is an increase from last month. Some short- or long-term drought was indicated on some of the islands in the Southwest Pacific on the NIWA Island Climate Update maps, with more extensive drought at the longer time periods. According to media reports (Reuters), the El Niño-induced heat and dryness of the last 4 months are forcing residents in Indonesian villages to dig up a dry river bed in the search for water. Reuters added that Indonesia's disaster agency said the country is expecting a longer dry season, lasting until October, due to the El Niño weather pattern, threatening clean water supply and increasing the risk of forest fires, and persistent drought across Afghanistan is taking its toll on farmers, its economy - a third of which is generated by agriculture - and food security. The Xinhua news agency reported that China's Ministry of Water Resources called for all-out efforts to combat drought and ensure water supply in four drought-stricken regions in the northern and northwestern parts of the country. The Khaosod news agency said that, in Thailand, the water situation at the Lam Takhong Dam in Nakhon Ratchasima, or Korat, has reached a critical point due to the prolonged dry spell, with water levels dropping to only 44 percent of the dam's capacity as of August 20. Reuters reported that the southwest monsoon that Sri Lanka farmers rely on for the Yala or summer harvest was scanty this year because of the El Niño weather pattern and the weather department estimates there will be no rains until October. Sri Lanka's northern neighbor India is also expected to have the driest August in more than a century, prompting it to restrict exports of certain categories of rice. Sri Lanka has previously imported rice from India to bridge production shortfalls. Phys.org noted that Iraq's Lake Habbaniyah, located about 45 miles west of Baghdad, was able to hold up to 3.3 billion cubic meters (872 billion gallons) of water, but had dwindled down to about 500 million cubic meters (132 billion gallons). The Washington Post added that, wracked by years of drought, Iraq is now experiencing its worst heat wave in decades. Water flows on the Euphrates and Tigris rivers are near record lows, leading to a cascading water crisis in the Iraqi countryside, where farming techniques have not kept pace with the times. Residents of Turkey's largest city, Istanbul, have been asked to reduce their water consumption as major cities across the country grapple with a drought crisis, amid high temperatures.

August continued dry across the Mediterranean coast (the Maghreb region) of Africa; the month was also dry across western parts of the continent, from central Africa to the Horn of Africa, and across southern regions. Most of the continent was warmer than normal, with August 2023 ranking as the warmest August continent-wide in the 1910-2023 NOAA/NCEI record; record heat continent-wide extended over the last 6 months (March-August), with the year to date being the third warmest January-August. The excessive warmth increased evapotranspiration, giving most of the continent dry conditions according to the SPEI. The SPI revealed areas of dryness in the north, east, central, and southern regions out to the last 12 months, with the SPEI showing expanded and intensified dryness in these areas. The dry conditions have been so intense that they are reflected in the SPI and SPEI at 6-year time periods. Satellite (GRACE) observations revealed persistent low soil moisture and groundwater in the Maghreb and adjacent northern regions, over parts of the Horn of Africa, and parts of central to southern Africa, with the worst conditions in the north and east. Satellite observations of vegetative health (VHI) revealed stressed vegetation over the Maghreb region and much of the Horn of Africa, and from central to western and southern Africa. An analysis by the African Flood and Drought Monitor estimated 23% of the continent in drought at the end of August, which is more than last month.

Most of Australia was drier than normal during August 2023, with unusually hot temperatures. According to the Australian Bureau of Meteorology, the continent had the second warmest August and warmest June-August since temperature records began in 1910, and the tenth driest August in the 1900-2023 precipitation record. The SPI showed dry areas in the west, south, and east at 2- to 9-month time scales, while the SPEI has the dryness more intense due to the increased evapotranspiration. The continent is mostly wet at 1- to 3-year time scales. Dry soils stretched from the west coast to east coast, with wet soils in the north and southeast, according to GRACE soil moisture data. The GRACE data showed low groundwater in the west and east. These anomaly patterns were confirmed by Australian Bureau of Meteorology and Australian Combined Drought Indicator analyses, which also showed low streamflows along the west and east coasts and some areas on both coasts with low water storage levels. According to media reports, farmers across Australia are worried about the impact of the drought on agricultural production.

In South America, August was wetter than normal in parts of Brazil, Argentina, Chile, and Ecuador, but much of the continent was drier than normal, especially in the north. Virtually the entire continent was much warmer than normal, resulting in the warmest August in the NOAA/NCEI record, continent-wide. Record continental warmth extended back through the last 9 months (December-August). Increased evapotranspiration from the unusual warmth resulted in more extensive and intense drought, as seen in the SPEI. The SPEI revealed widespread drought across the continent at 1- to 12-month time scales, except in parts of southern Argentina, eastern Brazil, and northern countries, with drought extending from Peru and Brazil southward at 24- to 48-month time periods. Satellite (GRACE) observations revealed extensive areas of low groundwater and soil moisture from Venezuela to Brazil and southern Peru to the southern tip of the continent. Satellite analysis revealed poor vegetative health from Colombia to Brazil and Peru to Argentina. Drought was confirmed in Brazil on the Brazilian Drought Monitor, in Bolivia on the Bolivian Drought Monitor, in Chile and Argentina on Southern South America Drought Information System and Chilean Combined Drought Index maps, and in western South America countries on the Western South America Regional Drought Monitor. According to media reports (The New York Times), Uruguayans have been drinking, cooking and bathing with salty water for months. The longest drought the country has ever recorded left its capital, Montevideo, almost completely dry, forcing the city to add brackish water to its supplies.

In North America, August was drier than normal across the southern U.S. into Mexico and extending across Central America; from the Upper Mississippi River Valley and western Great Lakes into western Quebec/Canada; in much of western and northern Canada; and across the Caribbean islands. Temperatures were warmer than normal across northern, western, and southern parts of the continent, with August 2023 ranking as the warmest August, continent-wide, in the NOAA/NCEI record. As seen on the Evaporative Stress Index map, the intense heat increased evapotranspiration from Canada to Mexico, exacerbating drought conditions. The last 2 (July-August) through 5 (April-August) months were also the warmest on record. In the Caribbean, August 2023 was the warmest August on record, with record heat region-wide extending over the last 6 months (March-August). According to national analyses, the U.S. had the ninth warmest and 48th wettest August in the 1895-2023 record, and Mexico had the warmest and 16th driest August on record; moderate to exceptional drought covered 61.0% of Mexico and 34.3% of the U.S., and abnormal dryness and drought affected 67% of Canada. Hundreds of large wildfires occurred in all three countries during August. The SPI indicated persistent dryness across Canada, in the Mississippi River Valley and Pacific Northwest Coast, from the southern U.S. to Central America, and across the Caribbean at 2- to 12-month time scales, with the SPEI showing much more intense and expansive drought. Long-term dryness was seen in these same areas at 2- to 4-year time scales on the SPI maps, and from the central to western U.S. on the SPEI maps.

Satellite (GRACE) observations revealed extensive areas of low groundwater and soil moisture in these dry areas. Satellite analysis indicated poor vegetative health across most of the continent, except the central to southeastern U.S. The North American Drought Monitor product depicted drought across the U.S. Pacific Northwest to much of western to central Canada; the central U.S. to Great Lakes; and the U.S. southern Plains to much of Mexico. The Caribbean Regional Climate Center SPI maps showed areas of short-term (1 to 6 months) dryness over parts of the Caribbean islands and long-term (12 to 24 months) dryness across the Caribbean islands. U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) statistics indicated that 52% of the nation's topsoil moisture and 54% of the subsoil moisture were short or very short (dry or very dry) at the end of August, and 17% of the nation's corn crop, 14% of the soybean crop, 44% of the cotton crop, 24% of the spring wheat crop, and 37% of the nation's pasture and rangeland were in poor to very poor condition. The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation announced a federal water shortage for Lake Mead, which is along the Colorado River, for a third consecutive year. In Texas, which has been hit by record heat and very dry conditions this summer, the Edwards Aquifer fell to its lowest point since July 1990 and numerous lakes in central Texas were depleted. Mexico's CONAGUA agency reported the nation's reservoir storage 22% below average, with 124 of the 210 main dams in the country having a storage of less than 50%. According to media reports (CNBC), low water levels in the Panama Canal have resulted in shipping restrictions that are impacting global shipping. The number of vessels waiting to cross the Panama Canal reached 154 in early August, and slots for carriers to book passage are being reduced in an effort to manage congestion caused by ongoing drought conditions that have roiled the major shipping gateway since the spring. The current wait time to cross the canal is now around 21 days. Several Royal Caribbean cruises are no longer sailing through the canal. Reuters added that the Panama Canal expects to maintain restrictions on daily vessel transit and maximum draft for at least 10 more months amid the prolonged drought that has lowered the water level. Farmers in central New Mexico have been warned that stretches of the Rio Grande River are expected to run dry in coming weeks, including sections of the river through the Albuquerque area as water from the San Juan-Chama Project runs out. According to Canada's Lethbridge News Now, Calgary, Alberta's largest city, has brought in some outdoor water restrictions due to record low flows in the Bow and Elbow rivers that supply it and other downstream communities across the Prairies. The Northern Climate Observer described the heat and drought in Canada's Northwest Territory and how wildfires forced the evacuation of several communities. Gro Intelligence news agency reported that prospects for Canada's wheat and canola crops are faltering amid persistent hot and dry weather across the prairie provinces. The government agency StatCan estimated spring wheat production would be down 14.5% from last year to 22.1 million tonnes, despite a big increase in planted acreage. Spring wheat represents the bulk of Canada's total wheat production, which is expected to decline 14.2%, to 29.5 million tonnes, year over year. The forecast is StatCan's first wheat production estimate of the year. Grain Central noted that the production outlook for Canada's wheat, barley, oats and canola crops is stumbling amid persistent hot and dry weather conditions across the Prairie provinces, while corn and soybean output is expected to increase year-on-year as eastern Canada has enjoyed higher-than-average rainfall since the beginning of the growing season.


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Citing This Report

NOAA National Centers for Environmental Information, Monthly Global Climate Report for August 2023, published online September 2023, retrieved on June 15, 2024 from https://www.ncei.noaa.gov/access/monitoring/monthly-report/global/202308.