The surface of the oceans has just experienced its warmest month of May on record, said Wednesday the European Copernicus service. "Ocean surface temperatures are already at record levels and our data indicate that the average temperature for all ice-free seas in May 2023 was higher than any other May," Samantha Burgess, deputy director of the EU's Copernicus Climate Change Service (C3S), said in a statement.
The latter is based on computer analyses generated from billions of measurements from satellites but also from ships, planes or weather stations around the world. Some of the data used by Copernicus go back as far as 1950.
Second warmest May in the world
For temperatures across the globe, May was the second warmest on record. "May 2023 was the second warmest globally, as we see the El Niño signal continuing to emerge in the equatorial Pacific," Burgess added. El Niño is a natural climatic phenomenon usually associated with rising temperatures, increased drought in some parts of the world and heavy rains in others.
It last occurred in 2018-2019 and gave way to a particularly long episode of almost three years of La Niña, which causes opposite effects including a drop in temperatures. In early May, the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) estimated that there was a 60% chance of El Niño developing by the end of July and 80% by the end of September.