As we (slowly) get used to being in 2024 and being back at work during these dark days, it’s important to remember 2023 was a climate record breaker. But not in a good way. Extreme weather events are becoming more common as a result of climate change, and the list below shows just some of the records broke in 2023:

  1. July 2023 was the hottest month on Earth ever recorded, with an average temperature of 16.95°C, underscoring an unprecedented global heat level​​.
  2. The warmest year on record was projected, with temperatures until the end of October averaging about 1.40 degrees Celsius above the pre-industrial baseline, highlighting the escalating impact of climate change​​.
  3. The United States experienced a historic year of billion-dollar weather and climate disasters, emphasizing the significant financial impacts of extreme weather events​​.
  4. Record-high temperatures and devastating floods were reported worldwide, with several states recording their warmest Julys. These events showcased the widespread nature of climate change effects​​.
  5. The onset of an El Niño climate pattern in the second half of 2023 influenced global weather patterns, contributing to temperature anomalies and exacerbating climatic extremes​​.
  6. Record-High Sea Surface Temperatures: For four months, sea surface temperatures reached record highs, being almost 1°C hotter than normal for those times of the year. This significant rise in ocean temperatures affects global weather patterns and contributes to more intense and frequent heatwaves.
  7. Devastating Impact on Antarctic Sea Ice: The year saw Antarctic sea ice shrink drastically, collapsing to a historic low. The extent of the ice was about a million square kilometres smaller than the previous record from 1986, an area approximately four times the size of the UK. This dramatic reduction in sea ice reflects the severe consequences of climate change on polar regions, affecting global climate systems and sea levels.

Closer to home in the UK, we also experienced a series of significant extreme weather events, causing significant and devastating flooding:

In 2023, the UK experienced several significant flooding events:

  • Butlin’s Minehead Closure and Taunton Flooding: Flooding in Somerset led to the closure of Butlin’s Minehead and affected a Wetherspoons pub in Taunton, indicating the widespread nature of the flooding​​.
  • Storm Agnes: On 27 September 2023, Storm Agnes hit the UK with strong winds and heavy rain, bringing flooding to parts of the UK and Ireland. This event highlights the impact of severe weather conditions on the region​​.
  • Flooding of Dalmuir Twin Railway Tunnels, Scotland: On 7 October 2023, the Dalmuir twin railway tunnels in Scotland were flooded, showcasing the infrastructural challenges posed by extreme weather events​​.
  • Storm Babet: In October 2023, Storm Babet triggered major floods across parts of the UK, damaging over 1,000 homes and leading to the evacuation of hundreds. The storm was linked to at least four fatalities, underscoring the human toll of such disasters​​.

These events from 2023 illustrate the growing impact of climate change on global weather patterns, emphasizing the urgent need for comprehensive actions to mitigate its effects and adapt to a rapidly changing environment.