July 'was Earth's hottest month on record'

A US agency registered the month as the warmest in its 142 years of record-keeping

A person cools off in the fountain at the World War II Memorial in Washington as temperatures are expected to reach near 38°C on August 13, 2021. AFP
Beta V.1.0 - Powered by automated translation

July was the hottest month globally ever recorded, a US scientific agency said on Friday, in the latest data to sound the alarm about the climate crisis.

“July is typically the world's warmest month of the year, but July 2021 outdid itself as the hottest July and month ever recorded,” said Rick Spinrad, administrator of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).

“This record adds to the disturbing and disruptive path that climate change has set for the globe,” Mr Spinrad said in a statement, citing data from the National Centres for Environmental Information.

NOAA said combined land and ocean-surface temperature was 0.93°C above the 20th-century average of 15.8°C, making it the hottest July since record-keeping began 142 years ago.

The month was hotter than the previous record set in July 2016, which was equalled in 2019 and 2020.

However, data released by the EU's Copernicus Climate Change Service showed that last month was the third warmest July on record globally.

Zeke Hausfather, a climate scientist at the Breakthrough Institute, said it is not unusual for agencies to have small differences in data.

“The NOAA record has more limited coverage over the Arctic than other global temperature records, which tend to show July 2021 as the second [Nasa] or third [Copernicus] warmest on record,” Mr Hausfather told AFP.

“But regardless of exactly where it ends up on the leader boards, the warmth the world is experiencing this summer is a clear impact of climate change due to human emissions of CO2 and other greenhouse gases,” he said.

“The extreme events we are seeing worldwide — from record-shattering heatwaves to extreme rainfall to raging wildfires — are all long-predicted and well understood impacts of a warmer world,” he said.

“They will continue to get more severe until the world cuts its emissions of CO2 and other greenhouse gases down to net zero.”

This image made available by the NOAA shows temperature differences from average values in July 2021 around the world. AP

Last week, a UN climate science report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change provoked shock by saying the world is on course to reach 1.5°C of warming around 2030.

“Scientists from across the globe delivered the most up-to-date assessment of the ways in which the climate is changing,” Mr Spinrad said.

“It is a sobering IPCC report that finds that human influence is, unequivocally, causing climate change and it confirms the impacts are widespread and rapidly intensifying.”

With only 1.1°C of warming so far, an unbroken cascade of deadly weather disasters bulked up by climate change has swept the world this summer, including asphalt-melting heatwaves in Canada, rainstorms turning city streets in China and Germany into rivers, to untameable wildfires sweeping across Greece and California.

NOAA said the land-surface only temperature for the Northern Hemisphere was the highest ever recorded for July — 1.54°C above average, surpassing the previous record in 2012.

Asia had its hottest July ever, surpassing 2010, it said, while Europe had its second-hottest July, trailing only 2018.

Updated: August 14, 2021, 4:31 AM