The World Meteorological Organization announced last week that July 2023 will likely be the Earth’s hottest month on record, breaking an average surface air temperature record set in August 2016. According to data from the Copernicus Climate Change Service, the first three weeks of July have been the hottest three-week period recorded in modern history.
In central Indiana, the average high temperature in July 2023 is 85.4 degrees Fahrenheit, while the average low is 66.9 degrees Fahrenheit, according to the National Weather Service. These temperatures are a decrease from last July’s averages, however. The National Weather Service reported the average high in July 2022 was 87.1 degrees Fahrenheit, while the average low was 69.0 degrees Fahrenheit.
Still, the Climate Prediction Center reported Indiana has a 40% to 50% probability of experiencing temperatures above normal in the next three months.
According to WMO, the average surface air temperature for the first 23 days of July was approximately 16.95 degrees Celsius, or 62.51 degrees Fahrenheit. This average is above the previous warmest month, July 2019, which recorded an average global mean surface air temperature of 61.934 degrees Fahrenheit. The highest daily global average surface air temperature this month was reached on July 6 at 62.744 degrees Fahrenheit.
In addition to record-breaking global surface air temperatures, WMO also reported the Earth experienced above-average global sea surface temperatures.
In their announcement, the WMO warned that the Earth will likely see more record-breaking temperatures in future years. According to a WMO press release, there is 98% chance that at least one of the next five years will be the warmest on record.
In the press release, WMO Secretary-General Petteri Taalas said human caused greenhouse gas emissions is the main cause of the high temperatures.
“The extreme weather which has affected many millions of people in July is unfortunately the harsh reality of climate change and a foretaste of the future,” Taalas said in the release. “The need to reduce greenhouse gas emissions is more urgent than ever before. Climate action is not a luxury but a must.”
Experts also point to the weather phenomenon “El Niño” as a major contributor to the rising temperatures this summer. El Niño is a climate pattern that pushes warm water against the West coast, consequently causing rises in temperatures and flooding in coastal and southern states, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. El Niño also commonly causes a dry climate in northern U.S. states.