Soaring temperatures made July the hottest month in modern times

  • AFP, Miami
  • Updated: Aug 17, 2016 23:36 IST
A man dressed as Santa Claus displays a placard during a rally calling for action on climate change in New York. (AFP)

Soaring temperatures worldwide made July the Earth’s hottest month in modern times, setting a new high mark for global heat in 137 years of record-keeping, US government scientists said on Wednesday.

The report from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration came just two days after the US space agency Nasa released its climate data, which also found July was a record-breaking month.

“July is typically the hottest month for the globe, and last month didn’t disappoint,” said a summary of the monthly report by NOAA.

“July 2016 was 1.57 degrees Fahrenheit above the 20th-century average, breaking last year’s record for the warmest July on record by 0.11 degrees.”

Scientists say the heating trend is being driven by fossil-fuel burning, and is made worse by the ocean warming phenomenon known as El Nino, which came to an end last month.

July’s global average of temperatures taken over land and ocean surfaces were the “highest for any month in the NOAA global temperature dataset record, which dates back to 1880.”

July also marks the 15th consecutive month of breaking monthly temperature records, “the longest such streak in the 137-year record,” NOAA said.

The report found above average warmth across most of the Earth, with new records observed in parts of Indonesia, southern Asia, and New Zealand.

Places that saw near average or cooler than normal temperatures last month included the northwestern United States, eastern Canada, southern South America, southwestern Australia, north central Russia, Kazakhstan, and India.

Temperatures were record high even though El Nino has ended, and neither the warming trend of El Nino or the cooler La Nina prevailed across the tropical Pacific Ocean during July 2016.

La Nina is “slightly favoured to develop during August-October 2016, with about 55-60% chance of La Nina during the northern hemisphere fall and winter 2016/17,” NOAA said.

But even a break in El Nino, which contributed to the surging global temperatures this year, is not likely to sway 2016 from its track toward becoming the hottest year in the contemporary era for global heat.

NOAA said the first seven months of the year are the “warmest such period on record at 1.85 degrees Fahrenheit (1.03 degrees Celsius) above the 20th century average.”

That is one-third of a degrees Fahrenheit above the previous record set in 2015.

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