2023 records Bhutan’s warmest year by far

September marks the warmest and January the coldest months

Bhutan recorded 2023 as the warmest year in its history so far according to the National Centre for Hydrology and Meteorology (NCHM).

The annual average maximum temperature was recorded at 22.61°C and average minimum temperature was 12.22°C across the country. The highest daily maximum temperature was recorded at Punakha met station with 38.5°C and the lowest daily minimum temperature was recorded at Haa met station with -12.5°C.

The Chief of the Meteorological Service Division, Dr Singay Dorji said that Bhutan is by no exception, experiencing warmer temperatures.

The hottest region for the year was Phuentsholing where temperatures starts to rise from 25.4°C in January to its peak at 32.5°C in September, indicating a typical trend of increasing temperatures from winter to summer. There’s a noticeable decrease in temperatures from September (32.5°C) to December (28.6°C), marking the transition from summer to winter.

The months of April, May and June have relatively high temperatures, with April being the hottest at 31.7°C on average. These are typically the peak summer months where temperatures are highest.

December has the lowest average maximum temperature of 28.6°C, indicating it is one of the colder months in the year for Phuentsholing, although still relatively mild compared to many other places.

From May to August, the temperatures remain relatively stable, fluctuating between 30.3°C to 31.7°C. This suggests a period of consistent warmth during the summer months.

There’s a range of about 7.1°C between the coldest month (January) and the warmest month (September), indicating a significant annual temperature variation. These interpretations can provide insights into the climate and seasonal variations experienced in Phuentsholing in 2023.

It is followed by the Sipsu station which experienced a range of temperatures, showcasing a mix of mild winters, warm summers, and stable autumn months.

The year kicked off with a relatively mild winter, as January saw an average maximum temperature of 24.2°C, gradually rising to 27.1°C in March. Despite the increase, temperatures remained comfortable and mild, setting a gentle transition into the spring season.

As summer approached, temperatures steadily climbed, reaching their peak in September at 32°C. April marked the onset of warmer weather, with the average maximum temperature hitting 30°C. May and June maintained similar warmth, hovering around 30.4°C and 29.6°C, respectively. The peak summer months of July and August saw temperatures slightly dip, but remaining consistently warm at 29.8°C and 29.5°C, respectively.

The monthly average maximum temperatures for Gasa Dzongkhag in 2023 portray a distinct seasonal variation, indicative of the climatic changes experienced with coldest district in the country.

The year begins with relatively cool temperatures, characteristic of the winter season in Gasa District. January typically marks the coldest period of the year, with temperatures hovering around single digits with 9.3°C. September was seen as the warmest month with 22.6°C.

Overall, the temperature pattern observed in Gasa in 2023 reflects the typical seasonal progression experienced in the region, with cold winters, mild springs, warm summers, and cooler autumns.

The second coldest station in 2023 was Haa as per the record of NCHM. The year commences with relatively cool temperatures, characteristic of the winter season in Haa district recording 22.6°C. January marks the beginning of the colder months.

September saw temperatures rising further, indicating the continuation to be warmest in the area with 21.4°C

Reflecting Thimphu’s temperature, the record from the Simtokha station shows a gradual increase from January to June and a gradual decrease from June to December. The peak summer months with the highest temperatures are June and July with average highest temperatures of 26.6°C and 25.9°C respectively.

December has the lowest average maximum temperature (16.1°C).

The monthly average maximum temperatures for Paro district in 2023 depict a fluctuating pattern. The year begins with relatively cool temperatures, recording 15.1°C at its highest. Summer peaks in July, with temperatures reaching their highest point of the year seeing 25.3°C.

In central Bhutan, the monthly average maximum temperature data for Bhur station in Bumthang for the year 2023 indicates a seasonal variation in temperatures throughout the year.

The year began with relatively mild temperatures. Its summer peaking in July with temperatures reaching their highest point of the year in Bhur recording 32.3°C, the weather remains hot as summer progresses until September.

In the South-East part of the country, the monthly average maximum temperatures for Dewathang station in 2023 exhibit a distinct pattern. Summer peaks in July, with temperatures reaching their highest point of the year at 30.7°C. July is characterized by hot weather. December marked the coldest in the region recording 20.8°C.

The monthly average maximum temperatures for Kanglung station in the east illustrate a clear seasonal pattern. The year began with relatively mild temperatures. January marks the onset of cooler weather, but temperatures remain above freezing levels.

September saw temperatures rising at the highest point with 27.5°C, indicating a brief period of late-summer warmth. The weather remains favorable as summer draws to a close.

Meanwhile, the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) announced on March 8 that the annual average global temperature was 1.45 degrees above pre-industrial levels (1850-1900) in 2023.

2023 was also the planet’s warmest year on record, according to an analysis by scientists from NOAA’s National Center for Environmental Information (NCEI).

By Sangay Rabten, Thimphu