Alarming new global data has revealed July was the hottest month on record for the world, as extreme heat waves and unprecedented fires struck parts of the United States and Europe.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) in the US has confirmed the average global temperature surpassed previous records, reaching 16.73 degrees in July.
It marks the hottest month in 142 years of record keeping but July is also the hottest month of the year for the globe.
The global figures showed the last seven Julys, from 2015 to 2021, have also been the hottest.
“In this case first place is the worst place to be,” NOAA Administrator Rick Spinrad said.
“This new record adds to the disturbing and disruptive path that climate change has set for the globe.”
July 2021: the grim numbers
Around the globe: the combined land and ocean-surface temperature was 0.93 of a degree above the 20th-century average of 15.8 degrees C, making it the hottest July since records began 142 years ago. It was 0.01 of a degree higher than the previous record set in July 2016, which was then tied in 2019 and 2020.
The Northern Hemisphere: the land-surface only temperature was the highest ever recorded for July, at an unprecedented 1.54 degrees above average, surpassing the previous record set in 2012.
Regional records: Asia had its hottest July on record, besting the previous record set in 2010; Europe had its second-hottest July on record—tying with July 2010 and trailing behind July 2018; and North America, South America, Africa and Oceania all had a top-10 warmest July.
Bleak global prediction amid rising temperatures
The NOAA has warned that 2021 will likely rank among the world’s top 10 warmest years.
“This is climate change,” said climate scientist Michael Mann from Pennsylvania State University.
“It is an exclamation mark on a summer of unprecedented heat, drought, wildfires and flooding.”
The grim prediction comes just days after the United Nations science panel released a landmark study which found the world could be just 10 years from heating by more than 1.5 degrees Celsius.
It’s a limit with dangerous consequences for humanity, in which more serious and frequent fires, droughts, floods and cyclones would be expected to wreak havoc across the globe.
David Ritter from Greenpeace Australia described the findings as “deeply sobering”.
“Things are happening faster than we thought and with greater severity,” he said.
“The implications for Australia are enormous,” he warned, pointing to the Black Summer bushfires, drought, recent flooding events and superstorms to hit the country.
“And yet Australia is nowhere on climate action. We are on the path to be considered a rogue state when it comes to climate action. The key takeaway is there can be be no more excuses and no more delays.”
Other disturbing findings from NOAA’s climate report
Sea ice coverage varied by hemisphere: The Arctic sea ice coverage (extent) for July 2021 was the fourth-smallest for July in the 43-year record. Only July 2012, 2019 and 2020 had a smaller sea ice extent. Antarctic sea ice extent was above average in July — the largest July sea ice extent since 2015 and the eighth highest on record.
The tropics were busier than average: In the Atlantic basin, the season’s earliest fifth-named storm, Elsa, formed on July 1. The Eastern North and Western Pacific basins each logged three named storms. Overall, global tropical cyclone activity this year so far (through July) has been above-normal for the number of named storms.
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