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Global Temperatures

The year 2023 was the warmest year since global records began in 1850 at 1.18°C (2.12°F) above the 20th century average of 13.9°C (57.0°F). This value is 0.15°C (0.27°F) more than the previous record set in 2016. The 10 warmest years in the 174-year record have all occurred during the last decade (2014–2023). Of note, the year 2005, which was the first year to set a new global temperature record in the 21st century, is now the 12th-warmest year on record. The year 2010, which had surpassed 2005 at the time, now ranks as the 11th-warmest year on record.

global-land-ocean-anomalies-202301-202312.png

Unlike the previous two years (2021 and 2022), which were squarely entrenched in a cold phase El Niño Southern Oscillation (ENSO) episode, also known as La Niña, 2023 quickly moved into ENSO neutral territory, transitioning to a warm phase episode, El Niño, by June. ENSO not only affects global weather patterns, but it also affects global temperatures. As seen in the image below, during the warm phase of ENSO (El Niño), global temperatures tend to be warmer than ENSO-neutral or La Niña years, while global temperatures tend to be slightly cooler during cold phase ENSO episodes (La Niña). Despite 2021 and 2022 not ranking among the five warmest years on record, the global annual temperature increased at an average rate of 0.06°C (0.11°F) per decade since 1850 and more than three times that rate (0.20°C / 0.36°F) since 1982.

During 2023, each monthly global surface temperature anomaly value ranked among the seven warmest with June through December each ranking as the warmest such month on record. The July global temperature value was likely the warmest of all months on record and the July, August, and September temperature anomalies each exceeded 1.0°C (1.8°F) above the long-term average for the first time on record. The September anomaly value of 1.44°C (2.59°F) was the largest positive monthly global temperature anomaly for any month on record.

Global ocean temperatures in 2023 were also noteworthly with nine-consecutive months (April–December) of record warm temperatures. The September ocean temperature anomaly value (+1.04°C/+1.87°F) was warmest of any month on record.

The Northern Hemisphere summer season (June–August) was warmest on record and the Northern Hemisphere autumn (September–November) was not only the warmest such period on record, it exceeded the previous record from 2015 by 0.39°C (0.70°F) and was the largest positive seasonal anomaly for any season on record in the Northern Hemisphere. The 2023 Northern Hemisphere surface temperature was also warmest on record at +1.54°C (+2.77°F). Meanwhile, the Southern Hemisphere had its warmest year on record, with a temperature that was 0.82°C (1.48°F) above the 20th century average.

January–December Ranks and Records
January–DecemberAnomalyRank
(out of 174 years)
Records
°C°FYear(s)°C°F
Global
Land+1.79+3.22Warmest1st2023+1.79+3.22
Coolest174th1884-0.74-1.33
Ocean+0.91+1.64Warmest1st2023+0.91+1.64
Coolest174th1909-0.44-0.79
Land and Ocean+1.18+2.12Warmest1st2023+1.18+2.12
Coolest174th1909, 1917-0.44-0.79
Northern Hemisphere
Land+2.11+3.80Warmest1st2023+2.11+3.80
Coolest174th1884-0.91-1.64
Ocean+1.11+2.00Warmest1st2023+1.11+2.00
Coolest174th1904-0.51-0.92
Land and Ocean+1.54+2.77Warmest1st2023+1.54+2.77
Coolest174th1917-0.55-0.99
Southern Hemisphere
Land+1.07+1.93Warmest2nd2019+1.12+2.02
Coolest173rd1917-0.63-1.13
Ocean+0.76+1.37Warmest1st2023+0.76+1.37
Coolest174th1909-0.41-0.74
Land and Ocean+0.82+1.48Warmest1st2023+0.82+1.48
Coolest174th1909-0.39-0.70
Antarctic
Land and Ocean+0.15+0.27Warmest40th2007+0.65+1.17
Coolest135th1962-0.53-0.95
Ties: 2012
Arctic
Land and Ocean+2.55+4.59Warmest4th2016+2.99+5.38
Coolest171st1902-1.08-1.94

The 1901–2000 average combined land and ocean annual temperature is 13.9°C (57.0°F), the annually averaged land temperature for the same period is 8.5°C (47.3°F), and the long-term annually averaged sea surface temperature is 16.1°C (60.9°F).


Ten Warmest Years (1850–2023)

The following table lists the global combined land and ocean annually averaged temperature rank and anomaly for each of the 10 warmest years on record.

Rank
1 = Warmest
Period of Record: 1850–2023
Year Anomaly °C Anomaly °F
1 2023 1.18 2.12
2 2016 1.03 1.85
3 2020 1.01 1.82
4 2019 0.98 1.76
5 2017 0.95 1.71
6 2015 0.92 1.66
7 2022 0.91 1.64
8 (tied) 2018 0.86 1.55
8 (tied) 2021 0.86 1.55
10 2014 0.77 1.39

Regional Temperatures

The year was characterized by near-record warm temperatures across much of the globe, with record-high annual temperatures across parts of Canada, the southern U.S., Central America, South America, Africa, Europe, Asia, and a large portion of the central and north-eastern Atlantic as well as portions of the South Atlantic, Indian and South Pacific oceans. Meanwhile, cooler-than-average temperatures were limited to portions of Antarctica and the Southern Ocean.

North America

North America's annual temperature was 2.01°C (3.62°F) above the 1910-2000 average and was the warmest year on record. Temperatures across North America varied somewhat throughout the year. Ten of the 12 months had an above-average monthly temperature. The months of May, August, September, and December were warmest on record with July, October, and November ranking as second warmest for their respective months. August 2023 was North America's warmest month of the year with a temperature departure of +1.94°C (+3.49°F), while the largest positive temperature anomaly occurred in December (+4.88°C/8.78°F) surpassing the previous record set in 1939 by a margin of 1.39°C (2.50°F). February was North America's coldest month of the year at +0.61°C (+1.09°F). North America's yearly temperature has increased at an average rate of 0.14°C (0.23°F) per decade since 1910; however, the average rate of increase is more than double the rate (0.34°C/0.61°F) since 1982.

South America

South America's annual temperature was 1.73°C (3.11°F) above average — the warmest year since regional records began in 1910. This was South America's 47th consecutive year with temperatures above average. Nine of South America's 10 warmest years have occurred since 2012. South America's annual temperature has increased at an average rate of 0.15°C (0.27°F) per decade since 1910; however, the average rate of increase is nearly double (0.25°C/0.45°F) that value since 1982.

South America had monthly temperatures that were above-average to record warm every month during 2023. Seven months (May and July through December) were record warm with each month from August to December having records that exceeded the previous record by a substantial margin (ranging from +0.32°C to +0.59°C higher than the previous record value). The month of August had the highest temperature departure of the year at +2.43°C (+4.37°F); meanwhile, January had the smallest temperature departure for the year at +0.84°C (+1.51°F).

  • A summer heat wave in early February contributed to wildfires in south-central Chile that burned over a million acres.

Europe

Europe had above-average monthly temperatures throughout the year, with the highest monthly temperature departure of +3.50°C (+6.30°F) occurring in January, resulting in the warmest January on record. In addition to January, September also ranked as the warmest such month on record surpassing the previous record set in 2020 by a margin of 1.02°C (1.84°F). The smallest monthly temperature departure for the year was +1.05°C (+1.89°F) in May.

The year as a whole ranked second warmest on record for Europe. The year 2023 was also the 27th consecutive year with temperatures above average. Europe's 10 warmest years have occurred since 2007. The annual temperature for Europe has increased at an average rate of 0.15°C (0.27°F) per decade since 1910; however, it has tripled to 0.47°C (0.85°F) since 1982.

  • Denmark had a record warm September that was warmer than both July and August 2023. Austria also had its warmest September in the 257-year record. Switzerland, Germany, and Latvia also had their warmest September on record in 2023.
  • Fennoscandia (Norway, Sweden and Finland) had a cooler-than-average October and November—nearly the only Northern Hemisphere locations to experience below average conditions during these months.

Africa

Africa had an annual temperature of +1.49°C (+2.68°F), which is the warmest in the continent's 114-year record. The year 2023 marked Africa's 31st consecutive year with temperatures above average. Africa's 10 warmest years have occurred since 2005. Africa's annual temperature has increased at an average rate of +0.12°C (+0.22°F) per decade since 1910; however, it has more than doubled to +0.28°C (+0.50°F) since 1982.

Throughout the year, Africa's monthly temperatures were above average. The months of July, August, September, and November ranked warmest on record for their respective months. The month with the highest temperature departure in 2023 was November with +2.03°C (+3.65°F), while February had the smallest temperature departure at +0.93°C (+1.67°F). The annual temperature for Africa has increased at an average rate of +0.12°C (+0.22°F) per decade since 1910; however, it has more than doubled to +0.28°C (+0.50°F) since 1982.

Asia

Asia had its second-warmest year on record at +2.09°C (+3.76°F). The year 2023 marked the 27th consecutive year with temperatures above average. Asia's 10 warmest years have occurred since 2007. Asia's trend during the 1910–2023 period was +0.18°C (+0.32°F) per decade; however, the 1982–2023 trend is more than twice the longer-term trend (+0.41°C/74°F).

Looking more closely at 2023, we see that each month from July through December was either warmest or second warmest on record, with the month of November having the largest postive temperature departure at 3.17°C (5.71°F) above average. January had the smallest temperature departure (+0.86°C/+1.55°F) in 2023.

  • On July 16, the Persian Gulf International Airport in Iran reported a heat index of 152°F (66.7°C).

Oceania

Oceania had an above average yearly temperature departure of +1.04°C (+1.87°F) — the 10th highest in the 114-year record. Nine of Oceania's 10 warmest years have occurred since 2005. The 1910–2023 trend for Oceania was +0.12°C (+0.22°F) per decade and the trend during the 1982–2023 period is +0.19°C (+0.34°F) per decade.

Oceania was cooler than the other continents throughout much of 2023. The month with the largest temperature departure for the year was August (+2.00°C/+3.60°F), while May had the smallest temperature departure for 2023 at 0.28°C (0.50°F) below average and was the coolest May in Oceania since 2011.

Antarctica

Antarctica's annual temperature was 0.15°C (0.27°F) above average, falling into the warmest third of the long-term record. Despite the warm average, month-to-month swings in temperatures were evident. January was the third-coldest such month on record and was the coldest January on record since 1986 with the smallest anomaly for the year of -0.68°C (-1.22°F). Conversely, September was the warmest year on record with an anomaly value of +2.01°C (+3.61°F). The 1910–2023 trend for Antarctica was +0.05°C (+0.09°F) per decade and the trend during the 1982–2023 period is +0.02°C (+0.04°F) per decade.

  • An iceberg nearly the size of Houston, Texas broke off the Brunt Ice Shelf in Antarctica on January 22, making it the second major calving to occur in this area over the past two years.
  • The Vostok Station in Antarctica recorded its coldest November since 1983 and second-coldest November since records began.

Precipitation

As indicated by the Global Percent of Normal Precipitation and Precipitation Percentiles maps below and as is typical, many stations were wet for the year, while many stations were dry. Also, as discussed below, extreme precipitation and drought events occurred across the world.

Significantly below-average annual precipitation occurred across portions of the Northwest, Southwest, Ohio Valley, Gulf and East coasts of the United States, parts of Argentina, Brazil, southern Europe/northern Africa, and coastal portions of Australia. Above-average precipitation occurred across much of the Northeast United States, from California to the central Plains, across much of Europe, and parts of eastern Asia.

North America

  • See the U.S. National Annual Climate and U.S. Annual Drought reports for additional information on drought and notable precipitation extremes across the U.S. during 2023.
  • Nine back-to-back atmospheric rivers pummeled California during January, which brought a total of 32 trillion gallons of rain and snow to the state. These storms significantly reduced long-term drought conditions across the region.
  • Hurricane Idalia made landfall in the Big Bend region of Florida on August 30 as a Category 3 hurricane and was the strongest Hurricane to hit the region in more than 125 years.
  • A slow-moving storm brought heavy rainfall and flash flooding to New York City on September 29, which shut down subway lines, grounded flights, submerged roadways, and prompted the governor to declare a state of emergency.
  • In October, the Mississippi River dropped to record-low water levels for the second year in a row, causing barges and ships to run aground during one of the busiest shipping times of the year.
  • On October 25, Hurricane Otis made landfall as a Category 5 hurricane near Acapulco on Mexico's southern Pacific coast after increasing wind speed by 115 miles per hour within 24 hours and bringing catastrophic damage to a city of nearly one million people.

South America

  • In late June, regions in central and southern Chile experienced the heaviest rainfall recorded in 30 years, which resulted in overflowing rivers and devastating flooding that affected more than 20,0000 people.
  • An extratropical cyclone dumped more than 300mm (nearly 12 inches) of rain in 24 hours on the Brazilian states of Rio Grande do Sul and Santa Catarina in early September, triggering landslides and flooding that led to the death of more than 30 people.

Africa

  • On September 10, Storm Daniel brought strong winds and an uprecedented amount of rain to eastern Libya, which caused massive destruction including burst dams across many towns and led to the death of more than 10,000 people.
  • Heavy rainfall in eastern Ghana brought severe flooding to the region in October forcing the evacuation of nearly 26,000 people.
  • Heavy rains that began in October following months of drought displaced more than half a million people across Ethiopia, Somalia, and Kenya and led to the death of at least 130 people.

Asia

  • Cyclone Mocha made a devastating landfall as a Category 4 storm in Myanmar on May 14.
  • Pakistan recorded its second-wettest June on record, in part to Cyclone Biparjoy which brought heavy rainfall to Pakistan and India in mid-June.
  • In August, prolonged monsoon rains overflowed the Sutlej River in Pakistan and India, flodding hundreds of villages and prompting the evacuation of more than 100,000 people along the River. In Bangladesh, continuous monsoon rainfall inundated villages and affected more than 1.2 million people; according to humanitarian organizations, nearly 90% of one of the affected districts, Bandarban, was submerged.

Oceania

  • Auckland, New Zealand recorded its wettest month on record since 1853 in January 2023.
  • On April 13, Cyclone Ilsa set a record for the strongest winds observed in western 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.

The Global Precipitation Climatology Project (GPCP) monthly data set is a long-term (1979-present) analysis (Adler et al., 2018) using a combination of satellite and gauge information. An interim GPCP analysis completed within 10 days of the end of the month allows for use in climate monitoring and, in this case, an examination of the completed year (2023).

Annual Highlights:
  • The strengthening of the current El Niño in the last half of the year gave the annual precipitation anomaly map a weak, but obvious El Niño look in the tropics.
  • Quarterly anomaly maps show reversal from La Niña to El Niño conditions during the year leading to rapid drought to flood situations in locations such as Somalia.
  • Record setting global mean temperature plus the El Niño led to a record annual rainfall in the 0-10°N ITCZ-related zone.

In terms of global precipitation the year 2023 was a year of transition related to the long-term increase in global surface temperature and the short-term change in the Pacific Ocean SST pattern from that related to La Niña conditions to the current El Niño conditions. The year 2023 had the highest global mean surface temperature in the record, helped by the warm El Niño SST conditions over the last two-thirds of the year. These surface temperature conditions are forcings for global precipitation amounts and patterns.

The annual mean precipitation map for 2023 (Fig. 1, top panel) shows the usual precipitation maxima of the tropics and mid-latitudes and dry zones in the sub-tropics and, of course, generally looks very similar to the long-term climatology (not shown). However, there are significant anomalies for 2023 from that long-term (1979-2022) climatology as seen in the middle panel of Fig. 1. In January 2023 the central tropical Pacific was still under La Niña conditions with a Niño3.4 Index of -0.72, but there followed a rapid warming over the next few months, switching over to a positive Index by April and continued increases as the El Niño blossomed, reaching a maximum for the calendar year, with a December Index of +2.07. The mean Niño3.4 Index for 2023 was +0.83.

The tropical anomaly pattern for the year reflects this transition from La Niña to El Niño conditions, but with a heavier weight on the El Niño side. Across the central Pacific there is a strong positive anomaly along the ITCZ, with negative anomalies to the north and south, indicating an intensification of the ITCZ in this region. The western Pacific Ocean also has a broader wet anomaly. Over the Maritime Continent (Indonesia, etc.) there is a general, but not completely, a negative anomaly, with stronger negative values extending to the southwest into the Indian Ocean. Further west a positive anomaly sits over the western Indian Ocean surrounding the Equator and extending into Africa, with a negative anomaly over southern Africa. Australia was generally dry and South America had a large rainfall deficit over the Amazon, associated with drought conditions there, with a small area of rainfall excess just to the south at the Brazil/Argentina border. All these described features fit well, but not perfectly, with the annual El Niño composite (from previous El Niño years) shown in the Fig. 1 (bottom panel). This degree of agreement is somewhat surprising since the El Niño was really in force for the last half of the year, although the La Niña effect was evident for just the first few months of the year. The overall correlation between the anomaly maps for 2023 and the El Niño composite for the 40ºN-40ºS zone is a moderate +0.34, compared to just December 2023 with +0.59, when the El Niño was very intense with a Niño 3.4 of +2.07.

Outside of the tropics much of Europe and northern Asia had positive precipitation anomalies for the year, except the Iberian Peninsula and the Mediterranean Sea. The South Asian monsoon had positive anomalies over the water and a varying result over land, as was the case over China. North America for the year was mostly drier than normal, interrupted by a relative wet zone from the Pacific into the U.S. west coast and extending eastward. This pattern for 2023 is very dissimilar to the El Niño composite.

A more detailed look at the anomaly patterns and how they evolved during the year is given for each of the seasons in Fig. 2. The January/February/March anomaly pattern (Fig. 2a) has a distinct La Niña look (with a composite approximately a mirror image of pattern in Fig. 1, bottom panel) with a Niño 3.4 Index of -0.4. This La Niña-like pattern has a large deficit of rain over the central, equatorial Pacific, with the V-shaped positive anomaly to the west over the Maritime Continent, with arms extending to the northeast and southeast, with a mostly dry Indian Ocean. A wet Australia and Amazon regions are missing from a typical La Niña pattern, due to the weakening phase of the La Niña. The dry feature over the Amazon in these early months continues throughout the year into the El Niño phase, exasperating the drought there.

The April/May/June pattern (Fig. 2b) shows a very mixed pattern, but the start of a Pacific ITCZ and western Pacific wet area as the El Niño takes hold (Niño 3.4 Index +0.47). This El Niño pattern continues to develop through July/August/September (Fig. 2c, Niño 3.4 Index +1.1) into the intense, full tropical El Niño pattern of the last three months (Fig. 2d, Index +1.9). The establishment of the El Niño pattern was associated with occurrences of floods and landslides, for example over Somalia and eastern Africa and continuation of the drought over the Amazon. Independent of ENSO, over Europe and northern Asia positive anomalies exist over the cool months and negative anomalies over the warm months.

While the mean global surface temperature has increased continuously over the satellite era (1979-2023) the global precipitation has increased very slightly according to the GPCP analyses (see Gu and Adler 2022) at a rate of about 1.5 percent/K. This rate is small and with the variability of precipitation, even at the global scale, not significant statistically. However, that observed rate is like that calculated from climate models over a similar period. A key characteristic of the year-to-year variability of global precipitation is due to ENSO, with years dominated by El Niño conditions having a positive global anomaly and La Niña years having the opposite. For 2023, with El Niño SSTs dominating during the year, the global total is 2.70 mm/d, just above (+.01 mm/d) the long-term mean (2.69 mm/d). The ocean mean for 2023 is 2.93 mm/d (a + .03 anomaly), while the land mean is 2.21 mm/d (a -.04 anomaly). This land-ocean offset is also characteristic of El Niño conditions.

A combination of long-term global warming effects plus ENSO effects can be seen in two key latitude bands across the globe. One zone is along the ITCZ in the deep tropics (0-10°N, land plus ocean) showing an increasing rainfall trend and the northern hemisphere sub-tropics (30-40°N, land plus ocean) showing a decreasing trend (see Fig. 3). This is a definite indication of wet-getting-wetter and dry-getting-drier climate change at a large scale as the mean values in these two bands are different by a about a factor of two, with the larger value at the lower latitude. The year 2023 contributes to this trend, and indeed sets the record by a large amount for the ITCZ latitude zone, likely an effect of the added contribution of the ongoing El Niño. One can pick out maxima associated with the El Niño years (e.g., 1998, 2015, 2023) and relative minima with La Niña periods (e.g., 1998-2000, 2020-2022).

This annual distribution of global precipitation is analyzed using the Global Precipitation Climatology Project (GPCP) monthly data set (Version 2.3), which is a long-term (1979-2023) analysis (Adler et al., 2017, 2018) using a combination of satellite and gauge information. An interim GPCP analysis completed within 10 days of the end of the month allows for use in climate monitoring and, in this case, an examination of the just completed year.


Ocean Heat Content

Ocean Heat Content (OHC) is essential for understanding and modeling global climate since > 90% of excess heat in the Earth's system is absorbed by the ocean. Further, expansion due to increased ocean heat contributes to sea level rise. Change in OHC is calculated from the difference of observed temperature profiles from the long-term mean.

2023 Ocean Heat Content (1022 joules)
Basin0-700 meters | Rank (1955-2023)
Entire BasinNorthern HemisphereSouthern Hemisphere
Atlantic8.5771st4.9971st3.5812nd
Indian4.5851st0.6428th3.9431st
Pacific7.4712nd3.3663rd4.1052nd
World20.6371st9.0092nd11.6281st
Source: Basin time series of heat content
2023 Heat Content 0-700 m
Heat Content 0-700 m

The annual global ocean heat content (OHC) for 2023 for the upper 2000 meters was record high, surpassing the previous record set in 2021. The five highest OHC have all occurred in the last five years (2019–2023). The regions of the North Pacific, North Atlantic, the Mediterranean, and southern oceans also had their highest OHC since the 1950s.

For additional information on the 2023 OHC, please see the paper titled Another Year of Record Heat for the Oceans (Cheng et al., 2023).


References

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Citing This Report

NOAA National Centers for Environmental Information, Monthly Global Climate Report for Annual 2023, published online January 2024, retrieved on July 15, 2024 from https://www.ncei.noaa.gov/access/monitoring/monthly-report/global/202313.