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Last Month Was the Hottest July in Recorded History

The EU’s weather satellites show the global average was 0.072 higher than July 2016, the previous record holder

July was the hottest month in recorded history. ( Nicolas Economou/NurPhoto via Getty Images)
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Last month was hottest July ever recorded globally, the latest data from the European Union’s Copernicus Climate Change Service confirms.

Marlowe Hood at Agence-France Presse reports that the previous record heat occurred during an El Nino year in July 2016 during which cyclical warming of the eastern Pacific Ocean impacted weather patterns. In 2016, El Nino’s effects were some of the strongest on record. This year, El Nino was mild during the first half of the year and likely had a much smaller impact, making July’s temperature spikes even more concerning, reports Isabelle Gerretsen at CNN.

The World Meteorological Organization estimates that the July average temperature was 1.2 degrees Celsius above the pre-industrial era. The Paris Climate Agreement hopes to keep temperatures below 1.5 degrees Celsius.

“This is not science fiction,” United Nations secretary general Antonio Guterres said in a press conference last week. “It is the reality of climate change… We have always lived through hot summers, but this is not the summer of our youth. This is not your grandfather's summer.”

Henry Fountain at the New York Times reports that the Copernicus data is just one data set and that over the next few weeks other agencies, like NASA and NOAA, will also release their temperature readings, which could vary. Even so, the data is part of a concerning trend. June 2019 was the warmest on record and the first five months of the year all ranked within the top four warmest spots for their corresponding month.

The past five years have been the hottest on record and the ten hottest years on record have all occurred in the last two decades. Currently, 2016 holds the crown as the hottest year ever. This year is currently on track for the number two spot, but depending on how the rest of the year goes, it could wind up taking the top spot, as Freja Vamborg, a senior scientist at Copernicus, tells CNN’s Gerretsen.

“With continued greenhouse gas emissions and the resulting impact on global temperatures, records will continue to be broken in the future,” Jean-Noel Thepaut, head of the Copernicus program, says in a statement.

While the global rise in temperatures is worrying and areas including Europe, Australia and parts of Africa have all set records and roasted in the heat this year, warming in the Arctic is top concern. Alaska has experienced record temps this year, Siberia is sweltering and a warm-up in Greenland has melted billions of tons of ice. Arctic sea ice also hit its lowest extent since satellite records began in June.

In September, the U.N. will host a Youth Climate Summit and Climate Action Summit, reports Pamela Falk at CBS News. The U.N. secretary general is telling world leaders now is the time for concrete action and that nations need to begin making big changes now to avert the worst effects of climate change.

“Don't come to the Summit with beautiful speeches,” Guterres says in a statement. “Come with concrete plans – clear steps to enhance nationally determined contributions by 2020 — and strategies for carbon neutrality by 2050.”

About Jason Daley

Jason Daley is a Madison, Wisconsin-based writer specializing in natural history, science, travel, and the environment. His work has appeared in Discover, Popular Science, Outside, Men’s Journal, and other magazines.

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