July likely to be hottest month for 'hundreds, if not thousands, of years'

Excessive heat brings unprecedented changes all over the world

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July 2023 is expected to be the hottest month yet, as people around world face record-breaking heatwaves.

Global air temperatures have climbed this month, with July 3 being the hottest day the planet has yet experienced.

This will probably be the warmest month for “hundreds, if not thousands, of years”, senior Nasa climatologist Gavin Schmidt said.

His remarks came as the US battles the heat.

The National Weather Service (NWS) said a “dangerous, long-lived, and record-breaking heatwave” will continue to affect the South-West this weekend, where temperature records have already been broken. Parts of the Mid-South, South-East and Gulf Coast are also forecast to endure oppressive heat and humidity.

Night-time temperatures will provide little relief to those in affected areas, the NWS reported.

“Temperatures and heat indexes will reach levels that would pose a health risk, and be potentially deadly to anyone without effective cooling and/or adequate hydration,” the US weather agency said in a Friday bulletin.

A heatwave in Europe is also causing sweltering conditions along the Mediterranean with temperatures hitting 47ºC in Sardinia this week.

Meanwhile, firefighting teams in parts of Europe were rushing to assist Greece as the country continues to battle raging wildfires.

Parts of China were also facing oppressive heat, with the country's interior particularly bearing the brunt of the conditions.

“We are seeing unprecedented changes all over the world – the heatwaves that we're seeing in the US in Europe and in China are demolishing records, left, right and centre,” Mr Schmidt said.

One of the drivers is El Nino, a climate phenomenon.

El Nino forms when east-to-west trade winds weaken, causing periods of warm water. These warmer waters cause areas to experience dryer and warmer conditions than usual, the US National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) said.

The NOAA declared last month that El Nino was under way after a three-year period of a cooler La Nina pattern.

El Nino can also cause thunderstorms and increased flooding.

“What we're seeing is the overall warmth, pretty much everywhere, particularly in the oceans. We've been seeing record-breaking sea surface temperatures, even outside of the tropics, for many months now,” he said.

“And we will anticipate that is going to continue, and the reason why we think that's going to continue, is because we continue to put greenhouse gasses into the atmosphere.”

Mr Schmidt said there is a 50 per cent chance this year will be the hottest on record, although he said other scientists have gone as high as 80 per cent.

Agencies contributed to this report

Updated: July 28, 2023, 7:03 AM