Photograph: Frederic J Brown/AFP/Getty Images
July was the world’s hottest month ever recorded, US government scientists have confirmed, a further indication of the unfolding climate crisis that is now affecting almost every part of the planet.
The global land and ocean surface temperature last month was one degree Celsius, 0.9C (1.6F), hotter than the 20th-century average of 15.8C (60.4F), making it the hottest month since modern record keeping began 142 years ago.
It has beaten the previous record set in July 2016, according to the National Ocean and Atmospheric Administration (Noaa).
“In this case, first place is the worst place to be,” said Rick Spinrad, the administrator of Noaa. “July is typically the world’s warmest month of the year, but July 2021 outdid itself as the hottest July and month ever recorded. This new record adds to the disturbing and disruptive path that climate change has set for the globe.”
Last month’s record heat was driven by soaring temperatures across the world, with Asia experiencing its hottest July on record and Europe, which has been scorched by heatwaves and wildfires in countries including Greece and Italy, recording its second hottest July on record. Europe’s hottest ever recorded temperature was reportedly set in Sicily on Wednesday, where it reached a roasting 48.8C (119.8F).
Photograph: Courtesy of Noaa
Australia had its fourth warmest July on record, while North America, which has been confronted with extreme heat, drought and wildfire across much of its western half for much of the year, has its sixth-highest July temperature on record.
The Noaa climate report also found that Arctic sea ice extent was more than 18% below an average set between 1981 to 2010, the fourth smallest extent since satellite records began in 1979.
It is now “very likely” that 2021 will rank among the 10 hottest years ever recorded, Noaa stated.
Confirmation of the record July heat follows the release of a landmark Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report on Monday which found that humans’ burning of fossil fuels has “unequivocally” heated up the planet to temperatures not seen on Earth in around 125,000 years.
This behavior is pushing the world towards dangerous climate breakdown that can only be averted by deep and rapid cuts to greenhouse gas emissions.
Spinrad said that IPCC report “confirms the impacts are widespread and rapidly intensifying.”