CLIMATEWIRE | Last month ranked among the planet’s top three hottest Julys on record.
The extreme temperatures came as deadly heat waves swept across Europe, killing up to 2,000 people in Portugal and Spain, and exacerbated drought-fueled wildfires in the western United States.
Last month’s scorching temperatures appear to fall just between the hottest July ever recorded in 2019 and the second hottest in 2016. That technically puts it in second place. But statistically speaking, this July falls so close to both that the European Union’s Copernicus Climate Change Service simply ranks it among the top three.
Copernicus also found that southwestern Europe — which suffered record-breaking heat over the last few weeks — saw its hottest July of all time.
The report comes amid a summer of record-shattering temperatures, both for Europe and for other parts of the Northern Hemisphere. Numerous studies show that climate change is causing heat waves to become more frequent, more intense and longer lasting across much of the world.
Extreme heat toppled monthly records in July across Portugal, Spain, France and other countries on the European continent, climbing well over 100 degrees Fahrenheit in many places. Wildfires ripped across the landscape, forcing thousands of people to evacuate.
Temperatures in the United Kingdom rose above 104 degrees Fahrenheit for the first time ever observed, shattering the country’s previous all-time heat record of 101.7 degrees multiple times in a single day. Just days later, a scientific study concluded that climate change made the heat wave at least 10 times more likely to occur.
Extreme heat also struck parts of China last month, with “red alert” heat warnings going into effect across much of the Yangtze River Basin. In Shanghai, the country’s most populous city, temperature rose to nearly 106 degrees Fahrenheit, matching its all-time temperature record. In other cities, temperatures rose as high as 111 degrees.
And record-breaking heat has plagued much of the United States over the last month, as well.
Heat advisories went into effect for tens of millions of people across the country during a major heat wave toward the end of July, including the southern Great Plains and Midwest, the mid-South and up the East Coast into New England. Daily temperature records toppled across the Northeast, where the heat broke 100 degrees in some places.
Sizzling heat struck the Pacific Northwest shortly afterward. Temperatures in some places, like typically mild Portland, Ore., rose above 100 degrees.
Temperatures didn’t reach quite the extremes that they hit during last year’s record-shattering Pacific Northwest heat wave, which broke 108 degrees in Seattle, 116 degrees in Portland and an eye-watering 121 degrees in the village of Lytton, British Columbia. But this year’s heat wave lasted longer, lingering for more than a week in some places.
According to NOAA, last month was the third-hottest July on record for the contiguous United States.
The global rankings released yesterday from Copernicus differ slightly from those reported by other science agencies. NOAA, for instance, has ranked July 2021 as the hottest on record and July 2016, 2019 and 2020 as tied for second place. Different agencies use slightly different methods to analyze global temperature data, meaning the exact results sometimes vary slightly.
But they’re statistically comparable, typically falling within a few fractions of a degree of one another.
Last month’s extremes were just the latest in an already record-breaking spring and summer for the Northern Hemisphere.
Japan experienced one of its worst heat waves of all time in June, with temperatures exceeding 104 degrees Fahrenheit in some places. Tokyo hit 95 degrees for more than a week, its longest streak since the city began keeping records in the 19th century.
Wave after wave of extreme heat has swept through Europe since late spring this year, offering only brief reprieves in between.
And both India and Pakistan suffered blistering heat for weeks on end in April during a heat wave that scientists have found was at least 30 times more likely to occur because of climate change.
Meanwhile, August is already shaping up to be a scorching month in many places, as well.
Iraq has been broiling for days under temperatures exceeding 120 degrees in some places, including the capital city of Baghdad. The heat has strained the electric grid, and repeated power cuts have left many without air conditioning.
The United Kingdom and parts of central Europe, including France and Germany, are currently bracing for yet another heat wave to strike this week.
And much of the United States has again sweltered under high heat in the last week, including the Great Plains and the Northeast.
Reprinted from E&E News with permission from POLITICO, LLC. Copyright 2022. E&E News provides essential news for energy and environment professionals.