After a summer of record-smashing heat, warming somehow got even worse in September as Earth set a new mark for how far above normal temperatures were, the European climate agency reported Thursday.
Last month’s average temperature was 0.93 degrees Celsius above the 1991-2020 average for September. That’s the warmest margin above average for a month in 83 years of records kept by the European Space Agency’s Copernicus Climate Change Service.
“It’s just mind-blowing really,” said Copernicus Director Carlo Buontempo. “Never seen anything like that in any month in our records.”
While July and August had hotter raw temperatures because they are warmer months on the calendar, September had what scientists call the biggest anomaly, or departure from normal. Temperature anomalies are crucial pieces of data in a warming world.
“This is not a fancy weather statistic,” Imperial College of London climate scientist Friederike Otto said in an email. “It’s a death sentence for people and ecosystems. It destroys assets, infrastructure, harvest.”
Copernicus calculated that the average temperature for September was 16.38 degrees Celsius, which broke the old record set in September 2020 by a whopping half-degree Celsius. That’s a huge margin in climate records.
The hot temperatures stretched across the globe, but they were chiefly driven by persistent and unusual warmth in the world’s oceans, which didn’t cool off as much in September as normal and have been record hot since spring, said Buontempo.