According to data from the United States National Centers for Environmental Prediction, Tuesday, July 4, marked the highest recorded global temperature in history. The average global temperature soared to 17.18°C, surpassing the previous day’s record of 17.01°C. This significant milestone exceeded the 17°C threshold for the first time ever and exceeded the previous record of 16.92°C set in August 2016.
Experts attribute this extreme heat to climate change and the emergence of an El Niño pattern. The southern United States has been grappling with an intense heat dome in recent weeks. China continues to endure a persistent heatwave, with temperatures exceeding 35°C. In North Africa, temperatures have reached nearly 50°C. Even Antarctica, currently in its winter season, has experienced abnormally high temperatures. The Vernadsky Research Base in Ukraine’s Argentine Islands broke its July temperature record with 8.7°C.
However, these escalating temperatures are not cause for celebration. Climate scientist Friederike Otto from the Grantham Institute for Climate Change and the Environment at Imperial College London emphasized that it signifies a dire situation for both people and ecosystems. Some scientists predict that more temperature records will be shattered as the summer progresses and the El Niño event gains strength.
Zeke Hausfather, a research scientist at the Berkeley Earth climate data analysis center, stated that increasing emissions of carbon dioxide and greenhouse gases, coupled with a growing El Niño event, will continue to push temperatures to new highs. Climate researcher Leon Simons considers the average global surface air temperature reaching 17°C for the first time in reliable recorded history as a significant symbolic milestone in our warming world. Simons anticipates a multitude of daily, monthly, and annual records being broken in the next 1.5 years, as the warmer phase of El Niño takes hold.
Karsten Haustein, from the University of Leipzig in Germany, suggested that this month could be the hottest in over 100,000 years. Haustein predicts that July will likely be the warmest month ever recorded, surpassing the Eemian period from approximately 120,000 years ago. Despite a temporary decrease in Southern Hemisphere temperatures, the ongoing El Niño phenomenon suggests that even hotter days await in July and August.
As the threat of El Niño looms large, Australia faces an increased risk of bushfires, characterized by hot and dry conditions. While an official declaration of an El Niño event is pending, the Bureau of Meteorology has issued an alert. The Climate Council’s scientists believe it could be the most potent El Niño ever observed. Australia is particularly vulnerable to the effects of El Niño, as it heightens the risk of drought, heatwaves, and bushfires, particularly in the eastern region of the country. The likelihood of mass coral bleaching in the Great Barrier Reef also escalates.
Greg Mullins, an expert in responding to major bushfires and natural disasters, warns of an above-normal fire season in the year ahead. Mullins anticipates significant fires, stating that simultaneous fire seasons along the east coast could hinder the sharing of firefighting resources among states. He points to the unprecedented fires currently ravaging Canada as evidence of the magnitude of the challenge. Mullins asserts the importance of proactive measures against global warming to protect future generations from irreparable natural and unnatural disasters.