The planet registers the hottest week ever documented

The world has just experienced hottest days ever recorded, according to preliminary data published this Monday by the World Meteorological Organization. This follows what was the hottest June on record, with record sea surface temperatures and the smallest extent of Antarctic sea ice ever seen.

The head of that UN agency for climate monitoring explained that the Atlantic Ocean also broke heat records. Specifically, Omar Badour specified that the surface temperature of the North Atlantic was 1.5°C above the historical average, a warming considered unparalleled. These record hot temperatures on both land and ocean, the result of human-induced climate change, have potentially devastating impacts on ecosystems and the environment.

El Niño could break records for extreme temperatures

He exceptional heat of June and early July It occurred at the beginning of the development of the El Niño weather phenomenon, which is expected to further fuel heat both on land and in the oceans and lead to more extreme temperatures and marine heat waves,” warned the Profesor Christopher Hewitt, WMO Director of Climate Services. “We are in uncharted territory and we can expect more records to fall as El Niño develops further and these impacts will extend through 2024. This is worrying news for the planet,” said this expert.

“We are in uncharted territory and we can expect more records to fall as El Niño further develops and these impacts will extend into 2024.”

The WMO referred to provisional data from the Japan Meteorological Agency indicating that the average global temperature on July 7 it was 17.24 degrees Celsius, which is 0.3 °C higher than the previous record registered on August 16, 2016, a year marked by a strong El Niño phenomenon. According to Badour, the provisional records provide more evidence of changes in the global weather pattern due to the El Niño episode, which is evolving.

Comparisons of daily global mean temperature are generally only available by combining satellite observations with computer model simulations, in data sets called reanalyses. WMO uses a combination of reanalysis data sets with global observations from land surface stations, aircraft, and ships for its weather reports and to assess global temperatures. “According to various data sets from our partners in different parts of the world, the first week of July set a new record in terms of daily temperatures,” said Dr. Omar Baddour, WMO’s head of climate monitoring. “WMO and the wider scientific community are closely watching these dramatic changes in different components of the climate system and sea surface temperatures,” he told a news conference.

June was the hottest month

A report from the European Union’s Copernicus Climate Change Service, a close collaborator of the World Meteorological Organization, showed that June 2023 was just over 0.5°C above the 1991-2020 average, surpassing the previous record. June 2019.

Record June temperatures were experienced in northwestern Europe, according to Copernicus. Parts of Canada, the United States, Mexico, Asia, and eastern Australia were significantly warmer than normal.

June wasn’t the hottest everywhere though, in fact it was colder than normal in some places, including western Australia, the western United States and western Russia.

The Copernicus Climate Change Service report, implemented by the European Center for Medium-Range Weather Forecasting said North Atlantic sea surface temperatures were “off the charts”. “This will have a ripple effect on ecosystems and fisheries and on our climate,” said the Dr. Michael Sparrow, head of the WMO Global Climate Research Department. These anomalies are caused by a combination of short-term anomalous circulation in the atmosphere and long-term changes in the ocean. Additionally, extreme marine heatwaves were observed in Ireland, the United Kingdom and the Baltic Sea.

While the causes of the anomalous heat in the Northeast Atlantic are still under investigation, there are already several contributing factors to consider. These include atmospheric circulation, air pollutionand the WMO also detailed that the heat is the result of profound alterations that are taking place in the system of our planet as a consequence of climate change caused by humans and global warming due to increased concentrations of greenhouse gases.

Another factor that has promoted these climatic anomalies, although it may seem contradictory, is the decrease in particulate pollution in the northern hemisphere, particularly Europe and North America. While reduced pollution is beneficial to the environment and human health, less pollution could also have an impact on the amount of solar radiation that is scattered back into space, leading to increased surface warming over the Earth. Tropical Atlantic Ocean, which in turn contributes to more frequent tropical cyclones. Without significant amounts of particulate pollution that reflects sunlight, the ocean absorbs more heat and warms faster, explains Hiroyuki Murakami, a physical scientist at NOAA’s Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Laboratory.

Antarctic melting skyrockets

On the other hand, the Antarctic sea ice reached its lowest level in June since satellite observations began, 17% below average, breaking the previous June record by a substantial margin. Throughout the month, the daily extent of Antarctic sea ice remained at record low values ​​for the time of year.

There was about 2.6 million square kilometers of Antarctic sea ice loss compared to the long-term satellite-era average and almost 1.2 million km2 compared to the previous record in 2022. “That’s a really dramatic drop in Antarctic sea ice extent,” said Dr Baddour.

Droughts, fires and floods

But in addition, June 2023 was drier than average across much of North America, conditions that favored and sustained severe wildfires. It was also drier in Russia, the Horn of Africa, most of southern Africa, South America and parts of Australia, according to the Copernicus Climate Change Service.

It was wetter than average across most of southern Europe, western Iceland and northwestern Russia, with heavy rainfall causing floods.

Drier-than-average conditions established over a large swath from west to east across central and eastern Europe and Scandinavia, as well as along the western Black Sea coast.

Wetter-than-average extratropical regions included western North America, regions of southwestern Asia, Japan, South Africa, Brazil, Chile, New Zealand, and a large region of Australia; Japan and Pakistan were hit by Typhoon Mawar and Cyclone Biparjoy respectively.

Source: World Meteorological Organization


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