- July 2021 marked the 439th consecutive month with temperatures above the 20th-century average.
- Many of the changes seen in the world’s climate are unprecedented in thousands, if not hundreds of thousands, of years.
- “This new record adds to the disturbing and disruptive path that climate change has set for the globe.”
Hot enough for you?
July 2021 was the planet’s hottest month ever recorded, federal scientists announced Friday.
Official global temperature records “only” date back 142 years, to 1880. But looking back further, the last time the world was definitely warmer than today was some 125,000 years ago, based on paleoclimatic data from tree rings, ice cores, sediments and other ways of examining Earth’s climate history, NASA climate scientist Gavin Schmidt said in 2017.
National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Administrator Rick Spinrad, in a statement on Friday, said “in this case, first place is the worst place to be. July is typically the world’s warmest month of the year, but July 2021 outdid itself as the hottest July and month ever recorded.
The combined land and ocean-surface temperature was 1.67 degrees Fahrenheit above the 20th-century average of 60.4 degrees F, according to NOAA.
“This new record adds to the disturbing and disruptive path that climate change has set for the globe,” he said.
According to NOAA, Asia had its hottest July on record, besting the previous record set in 2010; Europe had its second-hottest July on record – tying with July 2010 and trailing behind July 2018; and North America, South America, Africa and Oceania all had a top-10 warmest July.
In the U.S., several states in the West and the northern Plains had their hottest July on record.
July 2021 also marked the 45th consecutive July and the 439th consecutive month with temperatures, at least nominally, above the 20th-century average, NOAA said.
NOAA’s report about July’s heat comes out the same week as a major report released by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.
“Scientists from across the globe delivered the most up-to-date assessment of the ways in which the climate is changing,” 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.”
Many of the changes seen in the world’s climate are unprecedented in thousands, if not hundreds of thousands, of years. Some of the changes already set in motion – such as a rise in sea levels – are irreversible over hundreds to thousands of years, according to the report.
Due to human-caused climate change, Earth’s average temperature has risen more than 2 degrees Fahrenheit (1.2 degrees Celsius) since the late 19th century, NASA reported earlier this year.
Ralf Toumi, co-director of Grantham Institute on climate change at Imperial College London, told Reuters the recent bursts of record-breaking heat are no surprise, given the long-term pattern of rising temperatures.
“This is a constant casino we’re playing, and we’re just picking the high numbers again and again,” he said.