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Hotter Than Ever: 2023 Sets New Global Temperature Records

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charting rising global temperature records

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Charting Record-Breaking Monthly Global Temperatures

As local heat records are being broken across the planet, July 2023 also saw the global average temperature soar to an unprecedented 17.2°C (62.9°F).

In fact, according to the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), the four hottest days on record occurred from July 4 to July 7, 2023, breaking the previous record of 16.9°C (62.4°F) set in mid-August 2016.

The above graphic charts the average air temperature at 2 meters above the surface, since 1979, using data from Climate Reanalyzer.

What is Causing Record High Temperatures?

Temperature records were shattered in both 2023 and 2016 as a result of the dual impact of the El Niño climate phenomenon, which causes a significant rise in Pacific Ocean temperatures, and climate change.

Earth’s average global temperature has risen by at least 1.1°C (1.9°F) since 1880, and the pace has significantly increased in the last century alongside the burning of fossil fuels. The majority of the warming has occurred since 1975, with temperatures rising 0.15 to 0.20°C per decade.

According to the NOAA, six of the most recent months of July (typically the hottest month) were among the seven hottest months recorded by average global surface temperature:

RankHottest Months
by Avg. Temp.
Celsius (°C)
1July 2023*17.07°C
2July 202216.75°C
3July 201616.72°C
4July 202116.70°C
5July 200216.67°C
6July 201716.66°C
7July 201916.64°C

*As of July 12, 2023

Although these figures show marginal increases in the world’s average temperatures, the effects are far more noticeable on a local scale.

In July 2023, temperatures in Texas surpassed those of Northern Africa, as they reached 43.3°C (110°F). Across the Pacific, cities around China used bomb shelters as cooling centers during a 10-day streak of days above 35°C (95°F).

“We are in uncharted territory and we can expect more records to fall as El Niño develops further and these impacts will extend into 2024,”
– Christopher Hewitt, World Meteorological Organization

How to Mitigate Climate Change?

Transitioning to renewable energy sources, reducing or capturing greenhouse gas emissions, and implementing sustainable practices are considered key steps towards slowing climate change.

According to NASA, the future will also require adaptation, reducing our risks from the harmful effects of climate change (such as sea-level rise, more intense extreme weather events, or food insecurity) as well as taking advantage of any potential positive opportunities associated with climate change (such as longer growing seasons and higher yields in some regions).

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Visualized: Food Waste in the United States

This chart visualizes the flow of the 80 millions tons of food waste in the United States in 2021, using data from ReFED.

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the preview image for a sankey diagram that follows the sources of food waste in america to their destinations

Visualized: Food Waste in the United States

This was originally posted on the Voronoi app. Download the app for free on iOS or Android and discover incredible data-driven charts from a variety of trusted sources.

Did you know that there is more than 80 million tons of food wasted in the U.S. every year?

To explore where this waste came from and where it went, this graphic by Selin Oğuz visualizes the flow of food waste in the U.S. in 2021 using data from ReFED.

Following Waste from Source to Destination

The biggest source of food waste in the U.S. stemmed from residential households in 2021, accounting for more than 50% of the total.

Farms and the food service industry followed, each accounting for more than 13 million U.S. tons (short tons) of food waste in the same year.

SourcesWeight, U.S. Short TonsShare of Total
Residential43.6M54.0%
Food Service13.6M16.9%
Farm13.5M16.7%
Manufacturing7.02M8.7%
Retail3.01M3.8%
Total80.73M100%

But where did all of this food waste end up?

The data shows us that the answer is primarily landfills, followed by compost and being left unharvested, which occurs due to reasons such as market variability, insufficient labor, or food safety concerns.

What Food Waste Means for the Environment

Whether it’s as a result of spoilage, poor planning, or unrealistic cosmetic standards for produce, food waste squanders valuable resources—such as water, energy, and labor—and intensifies global hunger and food insecurity, according to the United Nations.

Food waste is also a huge source of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, contributing to climate change. According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, an estimated 190 million U.S. tons of GHG emissions result from food waste annually.

To put that number into perspective, that is equivalent to the annual emissions of 42 coal power plants.

Overall, the data highlights that food waste occurs at every stage of the food supply chain. Reducing this waste, especially where it is prominently high, can be crucial in achieving food system sustainability in the U.S. and beyond.

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