The world has experienced its hottest September on record this year, scientists have said.

Surface air temperatures last month were 0.05C warmer than in 2019, making it the hottest September on record globally, experts from the EU's Copernicus Climate Change Service (C3S) said.

It was also the hottest September Europe has seen, beating the previous record for the continent in 2018 by around 0.2C.

Temperatures were well above average in other parts of the world including the Middle East, in parts of South America and Australia, the scientists said.

Temperatures in the Siberian Arctic continued to be warmer than average, continuing a hot spell that has affected parts of the region since early spring.

Monitoring by C3S also confirms that the average Arctic sea ice extent for September, the month when it is at its lowest after the summer melt before refreezing in winter, was the second lowest recorded for the month, after 2012.

The C3S, which is implemented by the European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts (ECMWF), monitors the global and European climate.

It produces computer-generated analyses using billions of measurements from satellites, ships, aircraft and weather stations around the world.

Carlo Buontempo, director of Copernicus Climate Change Service at ECMWF, said: "In 2020, there was an unusually rapid decline in Arctic sea ice extent during June and July, in the same region where above average temperatures were recorded, preconditioning the sea ice minimum to be particularly low this year.

"The combination of record temperatures and low Arctic sea ice in 2020 highlight the importance of improved and more comprehensive monitoring in a region warming faster than anywhere else in the world."

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Temperatures since January have been tracking those of the hottest ever calendar year in 2016

This year has now seen three months of record warmth, January, May and September, with June and April virtually tied for first, the Copernicus Climate Change Service reported.

"There is currently little difference between 2020 and 2016 for the year-to-date," Copernicus senior scientist Freja Vambourg told AFP.

For the 12-month period through September, the planet was nearly 1.3C above pre-industrial levels.

That is alarmingly close to the 1.5C threshold for severe impacts detailed in a major 2018 report by the UN's climate science advisory panel, the IPCC.

The Paris Agreement has enjoined nations to cap global warming at "well below" 2C, and 1.5C if feasible.

So far, Earth has warmed on average by one degree, enough to boost the intensity of deadly heatwaves, droughts and tropical storms made more destructive by rising seas.

Climate change driven by greenhouse gas emissions from burning fossil fuels has picked up pace in recent decades.

Nineteen of the 20 last years are the warmest since accurate readings began in the late 19th century.

Since the late 1970s, the global thermometer has crept up 0.2C every decade, according to EU data.

Glaciers meet the sea during a summer heat wave on Svalbard archipelago

Temperatures in September were "exceptionally high" over northern Siberia, which along with much of the Arctic Circle has seen freakishly warm weather for months.

September was brutal in the Middle East, with new high temperatures reported in Turkey, Israel and Jordan.

Parts of North Africa and Tibet were also scorching hot, while maximum daytime values reached 49C in Los Angeles County early in the month.

Across California, five of the state's six biggest wildfires in history were still burning at the end of the month.

Last month's global record for heat was all the more remarkable because of the regional cooling effect of a naturally occurring La Nina weather event over the tropical Pacific.  

The Arctic ice cap floats on ocean water around the North Pole, and thus does not contribute directly to sea level rise when it melts. But it does accelerate global warming.  

Freshly fallen snow reflects 80% of the Sun's radiative force back into space.

But when that mirror-like surface is replaced by deep blue water, about the same percentage of Earth-heating energy is absorbed instead.

Climate change has also disrupted regional weather patterns, resulting in more sunshine beating down on the Greenland ice sheet.

That is melting and shedding mass into the ocean more quickly than at any time in the last 12,000 years, according to a study last week.

Additional reporting AFP