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2023 was the northern hemisphere’s hottest summer in 2,000 years

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2023 was the northern hemisphere’s hottest summer in 2,000 years


History’s hottest summers

Looking back at the past 2,000 years, the team searched for the warmest summers on record to see how they compared to 2023. They found that the hottest June to August in the pre-industrial era was in 246 CE when temperatures were around 0.88⁰C above average.

This record stood for over 1,000 years, before being broken repeatedly since the late 1990s. Over the last 28 summers in the northern hemisphere, 25 were hotter than 246 CE. Of these, 2023 was the hottest to date.

This exceeded the previous hottest summer of 2016 by around a quarter of a degree. It is thought that both of these summers were made warmer by a natural fluctuation in sea temperatures known as El Niño, which is currently predicted to last until the summer of 2024.

If this is the case, then it’s likely that this year will once again break the temperature record.

Counterintuitively, the research also suggests that air pollution may have slightly reduced the impact of increasing greenhouse gases by blocking some of the Sun’s light from reaching Earth and limiting the effects of warming, although its impact on human health and natural world are still incredibly dangerous.  

The researchers now want to go further back in time by using preserved wood to look up to 8,000 years into the past, as well as expanding the number of sites they have tree rings from.

However, this work is currently being held up by red tape.

“It can take half a year to get permissions to take tree cores, and even then it’s a question of whether we get it at all,” Jan says. “If we can’t get permission to help understand how our planet is changing, then I think the world is a bit upside down.”

While scientists continue to understand how our planet was in the past, it’s important to put it on a better path for the future. It is still possible to avoid the most damaging impacts of climate change, but only rapid cuts in greenhouse gas emissions will make this hope a reality.



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