Climate Change

April 2023 records great variations in temperatures globally: Copernicus

World’s fourth warmest April; 0.32°C  warmer than the 1991-2020 average

By Nandita Banerji
Published: Tuesday 09 May 2023
Photo: iStock__

2023 saw the fourth warmest April globally, according to a new analysis by Copernicus Climate Change Service (C3S), the European Union’s Earth observation programme. The month was 0.32 degrees Celsius warmer than the 1991-2020 average and recorded a sharp contrast in European air temperatures.

Above-average temperatures were observed over the equatorial eastern Pacific, which is an early sign for a potential transition to El Niño conditions, often leading to warmer global temperatures, according to Deputy Director of C3S Samantha Burgess. 

The month was about 0.2°C cooler than April 2016, the warmest April on record. However, it was similar in temperature (within 0.02°C) to April 2017 and April 2018. 

The anaylsis also noted that many parts of the world were colder than average. The analysis looked at two reference periods: 1981-2010 and 1991-2020. 

April 2023 was also wetter than normal for west to east from Ireland, Great Britain and France, across central Europe to the Italian peninsula, the Balkans and the Black Sea.

But there were exceptionally dry conditions in the Iberian Peninsula, south of the Alps and parts of French Mediterranean coast. Drier than normal conditions are also forecast for northwestern Scandinavia, the Baltic states and most of western Russia.

Temperature anomaly to April 2023 from May 2022 

 Source: Copernicus (Reference 1981-2010) 

Outside Europe, April 2023 was drier than usual in large parts of the United States, in a large area from western Russia east to the Caspian Sea, and in extratropical southeastsoutheast Asia. The Horn of Africa, most of South Africa, Argentina and parts of Brazil were drier than average.

The areas with wetter-than-usual rain in April were the southeastsoutheastern United States, eastern Asia, northwestern Australia and Tanzania.

Read more: Month of climate contradictions: Contrasts noted worldwide in March 2023, finds Copernicus

Antarctic sea ice extent remained well below average, at -19 per cent and the Arctic sea ice extent was 3 per cent below average

Temperatures were above average over southwest Europe, with Spain and Portugal recording their highest-ever April temperatures.

However, a band stretching from the United Kingdom to southeastsoutheast Europe experienced temperatures colder than average as well. This included Italy, where Easter was unusually cold, Romania and Türkiye.

Monthly global temperature anomalies

 Source: Copernicus (Reference 1981-2010) 

Monthly European temperature anomalies

 Source: Copernicus (Reference 1981-2010) 

It was much warmer than average over parts of Africa, central Asia surrounding the Caspian Sea, southeastsoutheast Asia and Japan and northern North America. At the same time, it was colder than average over Alaska, Mongolia, the Arabian Peninsula, India and Australia. 

January, February and March 2023 were all warmer than average as well, with a large part of Europe recording above-average air temperatures. March 2023 had also seen variations on several meteorological fronts. 

The world had the second joint warmest March on record and Antarctic sea ice was the second lowest on record. Globally, February 2023 was 0.29°C warmer than the 1991-2020 average for the month. It was also the fifth warmest February. January 2023 was the third warmest one on record. 

Read more: World may temporarily breach 1.5°C in the next five years: WMO

In March 2023, temperatures across Europe saw a sharp contrast. In southwest Europe, temperatures were well above the 1991-2020 reference period, with Spain and Portugal recording their highest temperatures in April. Nordic countries, western Russia and Morocco saw high temperatures too.

Above-average temperatures occurred over the majority of the ocean surface. The most notable warmer-than-average conditions were found across the Weddell Sea, the northern Pacific and in the Humboldt Current in the equatorial eastern Pacific.

The records indicate close to three years of below-average La Niña temperatures came to an end. These increased temperatures in the region are an early sign of a potential transition to El Niño conditions, according to the analysis. 

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