2023 was the warmest on record, experts say

This map of Earth in 2023 shows global surface temperature anomalies, or how much warmer or cooler each region of the planet was compared to the average from 1951 to 1980. Normal temperatures are shown in white, higher-than-normal temperatures in red

New analyses from NASA and the NOAA’s National Centers for Environmental Information (NCEI) revealed 2023 was the warmest year on record. 

Earth’s surface temperatures last year were around 2.1 degrees Fahrenheit above the average based on NASA’s baseline period(1951-1980). 

Key takeaways:

  • July 2023 was the hottest month on record.
  • Earth was 2.5 degrees Fahrenheit warmer than the 19th-century average.
  • Human activity as well as weather patterns and natural phenomena such as El Niño and volcanic eruptions cause long term warming trends.
  • Antarctic ice dropped to a record low. 

"The exceptional warming that we’re experiencing is not something we’ve seen before in human history," said Gavin Schmidt, director of NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies (GISS). "It’s driven primarily by our fossil fuel emissions, and we’re seeing the impacts in heat waves, intense rainfall, and coastal flooding."


FILE - This data visualization, which is updated monthly, shows the seasonal cycle of temperature variation on the Earth’s surface, and how those temperatures deviate from the average from 1951 to 1980. The data come from the GISS Surface Temperatur (NASA’s Scientific Visualization Studio)

2024 could be even warmer

There is a one-in-three chance that 2024 could be even warmer than 2023, according to the NOAA, as well as a 99% chance that it will be ranked as one of the top five warmest years on record. 

RELATED: World in 'deep trouble' with 2023 still on track to be hottest year ever recorded, UN leader warns 

"A warming planet means we need to be prepared for the impacts of climate change that are happening here and now, like extreme weather events that become both more frequent and severe. We will continue to see records broken and extreme events grow until emissions go to zero," Kapnick said. "Government policy can address both emissions, but also actions to reduce climate impacts by building resilience," said NOAA Chief Scientist Dr. Sarah Kapnick. 

This story was reported from Los Angeles.