The year 2023 is poised to claim the dubious honour of being the hottest in recorded history.

According to the European Union's climate monitor, a scorching summer has seen record-breaking temperatures across the Northern Hemisphere, leading to devastating heatwaves, droughts, and wildfires.

From June to August, the global average temperature reached 16.77 Celsius, surpassing the previous record set in 2019 by a significant margin, reports the Copernicus Climate Change Service (C3S). 

Samantha Burgess, C3S deputy director, says these three months were the warmest in approximately 120,000 years.

“Climate breakdown has begun,” UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres says. 

He drew parallels with the famous 1988 testimony of government scientist James Hansen, who declared the onset of global warming.

The World Meteorological Organisation (WMO) has also weighed in, warning that more frequent and intense heatwaves are generating severe air pollution, shortening human lifespans, and harming ecosystems. 

Record-high global sea surface temperatures played a pivotal role in exacerbating the summer heat, with marine heatwaves impacting the North Atlantic and the Mediterranean Sea. 

Experts say that if the Northern Hemisphere experiences a “normal” winter, 2023 is likely to become the warmest year ever recorded.

Oceans have absorbed 90 per cent of the excess heat generated by human activities since the industrial age began. This excess heat continues to accumulate due to rising greenhouse gas levels in the Earth's atmosphere. Warmer oceans also struggle to absorb carbon dioxide, worsening global warming and disrupting ecosystems.

Antarctic sea ice remained at a record low, signalling concerning changes in the polar regions. Additionally, the El Niño weather phenomenon, which warms waters in the southern Pacific, is set to intensify in late 2023 and into the next year, further raising temperatures.

The C3S findings are based on extensive computer-generated analyses, incorporating data from billions of measurements collected by satellites, ships, aircraft, and weather stations worldwide. 

Proxy data, such as tree rings and ice cores, allowed scientists to compare modern temperatures with those before records began in the mid-19th century.