In 2023, annual temperature for Europe was joint-highest on record

The year 2023 was the joint warmest year on record in Europe, with 2020, at one degree Celsius above average, and 2.6°C above the pre-industrial level.

This is according to the European State of the Climate 2023 (ESOTC 2020) report, released by the Copernicus Climate Change Service (C3S), implemented by the European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts on behalf of the European Commission.

The Copernicus services monitor data on a global scale, including surface air temperature, precipitation, sea ice area and atmospheric greenhouse gases. The 2023 report underlined how temperatures continued on a clear warming trajectory.

“Almost the entire region had above average temperatures for the year as a whole, except for Scandinavia, Iceland and southeastern Greenland. The most-above-average temperatures were in the European Arctic,” the report said.

“Autumn was the second warmest on record for the region; September was exceptionally warm across much of continental Europe, while November saw temperatures up to 6°C above average in the eastern parts of the region, and in the European Arctic.”

For most of Europe, 2023 was amongst the top 10 warmest years on record. Much of southeastern Europe, and parts of western and central Europe, saw their warmest year on record. Temperatures in Europe were above average for 11 months of the year, and September was the warmest on record, the report said.

This has lead to an increasing number of days during which heat stress is experienced, and a decreasing number of days with cold stress.

2023 reached a record number of days with ‘extreme heat stress’, which the report defined as the equivalent to a ‘feels like’ temperature of more than 46°C.

It also led to an above average fire danger for Europe in in 2023. “There were large fires in Portugal, Spain, Italy and especially Greece, which saw the largest wildfire ever recorded in the European Union, at around 96 000ha,” the report said.

Although higher-than-average air pressure anomalies over the Iberian Peninsula led to a prolonged drought between February and May 2023, Europe as a whole saw seven per cent more than average precipitation last year.

Storms and record rainfall led to heavy floods across Europe, notably in Italy (May), Slovenia and Scandinavia (August), Greece and Bulgaria (September), and Germany (December). A total of 1.6 million people were affected by floods in Europe last year, the report said.

The report estimated flooding was responsible for the bulk of economic damages caused by climate events in 2023, or 81 per cent of the estimated 13.4 billion euro in losses.

At the same time, much of Europe experienced fewer days with snow than average and glaciers in all parts of Europe saw a net loss of ice.

“Following record ice loss in 2022, it was another exceptional year of loss in the Alps, due to below-average winter accumulation and strong summer melt. Over these two years, glaciers in the Alps lost around 10 per cent of their volume,” the report said.

Globally, it was the warmest year on record, with each month from June to December recording temperatures higher than the corresponding month in any previous year, while September saw the largest monthly temperature anomaly on record, at 0.93°C above average, the report said.

“It was the first year in which every day exceeded 1°C above the pre-industrial level. Nearly half the days were more than 1.5°C above the pre-industrial level, and two days were, for the first time, more than 2°C warmer.”

(Photo: Stacy Brumley/

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The Sofia Globe staff

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