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  • Year in Review
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Climate chronicles

Extreme terrestrial heat in 2023

Multiple relentless heatwaves occurred in 2023, with much of the world experiencing at least 20 more heatwave days than the 1991–2020 average. Prominent and record-breaking events included exceptional wintertime and spring heat in South America, large heatwaves over Europe, Africa and Asia, and a prolonged event over south-eastern USA and Central America.

Key points

  • Persistent heatwaves across much of the globe were synonymous with the hottest year on record.

  • Many 2023 heatwaves exhibited record-smashing extreme temperatures, including a widespread heatwave spanning Thailand to Northern China that featured the worst April heatwave in South China on record.

  • South America saw many prominent heat events, with exceptional heat in winter and early spring that broke all-time summertime records.

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Fig. 1: Heatwave activity in 2023.


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  10. India Meteorological Department. Climate Summary for the month of August 2023 (2023).

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We thank the Copernicus Climate Change Service for publicly providing the ERA5 reanalysis in near real time.

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Correspondence to Sarah Perkins-Kirkpatrick.

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Perkins-Kirkpatrick, S., Barriopedro, D., Jha, R. et al. Extreme terrestrial heat in 2023. Nat Rev Earth Environ 5, 244–246 (2024).

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