Home / News / News & Events / Climate and weather extremes in 2023: “Beyond anything we’ve seen before”

Climate and weather extremes in 2023: “Beyond anything we’ve seen before”

Records have been broken across global temperatures, greenhouse gas emissions, sea surface temperatures and acidification, sea level rise, ice sheet extent in Antarctica, and glacier retreat in 2023 – outlined this week in the latest publication of the State of the Climate Report by the World Meteorological Organization.

Dr Till Kuhlbrodt is a senior research fellow at the National Centre for Atmospheric Science and University of Reading, who studies global atmospheric processes and changes in global climate using computer models. We spoke to Dr Kuhlbrodt about the report’s findings:

“Some of the climate and weather extremes we have seen in 2023 are markedly beyond anything we have seen before in the instrumental record. Sea-ice cover in the Southern Ocean shrank to a surprisingly small size. 

“For the North Atlantic, the sea surface temperature left the known range of variability in March last year and has not returned since. These observations are really concerning. The warmer oceans make heavy precipitation events more likely and speed up sea-level rise. 

“Climate and Earth System scientists now need to assess in detail what the drivers of these unprecedented extremes are. It is certain though that the accelerating global heating, caused mainly by burning oil, coal and gas, does make climate and weather extremes ever more likely.”

The report confirmed that 2023 was the warmest year on record, and concluded the warmest ten-year period on record. The state of the climate in 2023 had impacts on extreme weather and atmospheric conditions worldwide. Heatwaves, wildfires, air pollution from wildfires, stronger and longer-lasting tropical cyclones, droughts, heavy rain and floods affected millions of people across the globe, and cost billions in damage – with the most deprived communities being affected the most. Extreme weather events last year, and the report, highlights how the cost of climate inaction is higher than the cost of climate action.