The hottest day on Earth was July 4, 2023, according to data from the U.S. National Centers for Environmental Prediction. The global average temperature that day reached 62.92 degrees Fahrenheit (17.18 degrees Celsius), reports The Washington Post.
It was the hottest day on record since, well, the day before. On July 3, 2023, many media outlets reported it was the hottest day on Earth when the global average temperature reached 62.62 degrees Fahrenheit (17.01 degrees Celsius).
What caused the hottest day on Earth in July 2023? The climate crisis is a major factor.
If you don’t think climate change and global warming are real, you may want to reconsider that opinion. The hottest temperatures ever recorded were driven by a combination of global warming and El Niño, said Dr. Robert Rohde, lead scientist at Berkeley Earth, in a July 4 tweet.
“Global warming is leading us into an unfamiliar world,” Rohde tweeted.
How does El Niño impact temperatures?
El Niño, which refers to the warming of the ocean's surface, doesn't help matters. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) announced the arrival of El Niño on June 8, 2023. The climate phenomenon usually occurs every two to seven years and is marked by warmer-than-average temperatures, as per the NOAA.
"Depending on its strength, El Niño can cause a range of impacts, such as increasing the risk of heavy rainfall and droughts in certain locations around the world," Michelle L'Heureux, a climate scientist at the Climate Prediction Center, in a statement. "Climate change can exacerbate or mitigate certain impacts related to El Niño. For example, El Niño could lead to new records for temperatures, particularly in areas that already experience above-average temperatures during El Niño.”
What was the previous hottest day on Earth?
The previous record for the hottest day in history was on Aug. 13, 2016, when the global average temperature reached 62.456 degrees Fahrenheit (16.92 degrees Celsius), CNN reports.
“It’s not a record to celebrate, and it won’t be a record for long, with northern hemisphere summer still mostly ahead and El Niño developing,” Friederike Otto of the Grantham Institute for Climate Change and the Environment told CNN.
Heat waves are being felt around the U.S.
It’s probably no surprise to people living in U.S. southern states that the Earth has hit its hottest temperature in history. Texas and other states in the South have been experiencing a brutal heat wave with temperatures over 100 degrees Fahrenheit, CNN reports.
The National Weather Service defines a heat wave as a “period of abnormally hot weather generally lasting more than two days.” Heat waves are becoming more frequent and more intense due to climate change, reports the Weather Channel.
“Climate change is increasing the frequency and severity of heat waves in places that have not historically seen this level of warmth,” said Kait Parker, Weather Channel meteorologist, in a May 17, 2023 blog post.
Scientists with NASA Global Climate Change say the Earth’s average surface temperature has risen by about 2 degrees Fahrenheit since the late 19th century, and the increase is driven by greenhouse gas emissions that trap heat in the Earth’s atmosphere.
"It is undeniable that human activities have produced the atmospheric gases that have trapped more of the Sun’s energy in the Earth system," explains NASA. "This extra energy has warmed the atmosphere, ocean, and land, and widespread and rapid changes in the atmosphere, ocean, cryosphere, and biosphere have occurred."