It wasn’t just your imagination: Our planet just sweltered through its hottest June in the 174-year global climate record, according to new figures from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
June 2023 also marked the 47th consecutive June and the 532nd consecutive month with temperatures above the 20th-century average.
For the third consecutive month, the global ocean surface temperature hit a record high as weak El Nino conditions that emerged in May continued to strengthen in June. Globally, June 2023 set a record for the highest monthly sea surface temperature anomaly of any month in NOAA’s climate record.
The rising ocean temperatures have raised concerns for coral reefs surrounding Florida in the Atlantic Ocean and Gulf of Mexico.
“If ocean temperatures are higher than the maximum monthly average, for a month or more, especially during the warmest part of the year — even by as little as 1-2 degrees Celsius (2-3 degrees Fahrenheit) — corals will experience bleaching,” said Derek Manzello, coordinator of NOAA’s Coral Reef Watch. “If the heat stress does not subside, the coral will die.”
Manzello said the Mission Iconic Reefs program is working to grow new corals and plant them in the reefs of the Florida Keys.
“It’s a race against time for managers and scientists to outrun a rapidly warming ocean, to try and restore Florida’s cherished coral reefs,” he said. “Unfortunately, the heat stress is likely just beginning this year and is far from over. Unless there are atmospheric or oceanographic changes/events that cause cooling, the amount of heat we are seeing for the Caribbean region and Florida this early in the year is very concerning.”