Record heat waves might have made July the hottest month ever recorded

europe heatwave thumbnail
See how Europe is dealing with an extreme heatwave
01:34 - Source: CNN
CNN  — 

There has never been a hotter month recorded on Earth than this July, with meteorologists warning that temperatures could even exceed the record set in July 2016.

Global average temperatures for July are on par with and possibly higher than those in July 2016, when the planet experienced extreme warming, according to preliminary data for July 1-29 released by the Copernicus Climate Change Programme, known as C3S, which analyzes temperature data from around the planet. The final data will be released Monday.

Freja Vamborg, senior scientist at Copernicus, which is a part of the European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts, said the global average temperature for July 1-29 is estimated at 16.6 degrees Celsius (61.88 degrees Fahrenheit), rivaling the July 2016 record of 16.67 degrees Celsius (62 Fahrenheit).

According to Vamborg, temperatures over the past 12 months are “very similar” to those recorded between July 2015 and June 2016, when the world was in the throes of one of the strongest El Niño events on record.

El Niño events are characterized by warming of the ocean waters in the Pacific Ocean and have a pronounced warming effect on the Earth’s average temperature.

Though there was a weak El Niño in place during the first part of 2019, it is transitioning to a more neutral phase, making the extreme July temperatures even more alarming.

Petteri Taalas, secretary-general of the World Meteorological Organization, said this July has “rewritten climate history, with dozens of new temperature records at the local, national and global level.”

The July record follows a period of extremely hot weather around the globe.

According to Copernicus, April, May and July all ranked among the warmest on record for those months, and this June was the hottest June ever.

Intense heat waves have swept Europe this summer, breaking temperature records in at least a dozen countries. Scientists have warned that the world should expect more scorching heat waves and extreme weather due to climate change.

Europe wasn’t the only region baking in July. Anchorage, Alaska, recorded its hottest month ever, and extreme heat helped facilitate “unprecedented” wildfires in the Arctic and triggered mass melting of Greenland’s ice sheet.

“This is not science fiction. It is the reality of climate change. It is happening now, and it will worsen in the future without urgent climate action. Time is running out to rein in dangerous temperature increases with multiple impacts on our planet,” Taalas stressed.

2015 through 2018 have been the four warmest years on record, according to Copernicus and other independent temperature-observing groups, such as the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and NASA.

Vamborg said the data suggested that we are on track for the second-hottest year ever.

She added that these temperature highs are in line with climate predictions and that we can expect to see more records if we fail to curb greenhouse gas emissions.

The July temperature is about 1.2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels, according to Copernicus.

This means we are rapidly approaching the crucial threshold of 1.5 degrees, which will precipitate the risk of extreme weather events and food shortages for hundreds of millions of people.

The UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change warned last year that we have until 2030 to avoid such catastrophic levels of global warming and called on governments to meet their obligations under the landmark 2015 Paris Agreement.

Almost 200 countries and the European Union have pledged to keep the global temperature below 2 degrees Celsius as part of the Paris Agreement.