July 2023 is poised to rewrite climate history as U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres revealed that it is on track to become the hottest month ever recorded. Both the U.N. World Meteorological Organization (WMO) and the European Union’s Copernicus Climate Change Service jointly stated that it is “extremely likely” that July 2023 will shatter previous records.
Guterres, speaking from New York, expressed confidence in the projected outcome, stating, “Short of a mini-Ice Age over the next few days, July 2023 will shatter records across the board.” He warned that this alarming scenario is a clear indication of the reality of climate change, asserting, “Climate change is here. It is terrifying. And it is just the beginning. The era of global boiling has arrived.”
Throughout July, the extreme heat’s impact has been felt worldwide. Tourists fled wildfires on Greece’s Rhodes Island, while the U.S. Southwest endured scorching temperatures. Notably, temperatures in a northwest China township surged to a record-breaking 52.2°C (126°F).
Although the WMO will wait until August to officially confirm the record, an analysis by Germany’s Leipzig University already supports the conclusion that July 2023 will indeed be the hottest month on record.
According to EU data, this month’s mean global temperature is projected to be at least 0.2°C (0.4°F) warmer than July 2019, the previous record holder. The margin of difference between the two periods is substantial, leading Leipzig climate scientist Karsten Haustein to confidently state, “It is going to be the warmest July.”
The estimates indicate that July 2023 will be approximately 1.5 degrees Celsius (2.7 degrees Fahrenheit) above the pre-industrial mean. The WMO has already confirmed that the first three weeks of July have been the warmest on record.
Michael Mann, a climate scientist at the University of Pennsylvania, emphasized that this record warmth reflects a planet continuing to heat up due to human activities like burning fossil fuels.
Traditionally, July’s global mean temperature hovers around 16°C (61°F), including the Southern Hemisphere’s winter. This year, the average has surged to around 17°C (63°F).
Moreover, Haustein’s analysis, based on preliminary data and weather models, supported by other scientists, suggests that our planet has not experienced such high temperatures in thousands or even tens of thousands of years, possibly dating back 120,000 years.
The scorching heat has triggered devastating events across the globe. From wildfires in Canada and Greece to heatwaves in France, Spain, Germany, and Poland, extreme weather events have become more frequent and intense.
Marine heatwaves have also emerged, raising concerns about coral reef die-off in areas like Florida and Australia.
Even Antarctica, one of the coldest regions on Earth, is affected by the warming trend, experiencing record-low sea ice during its winter, when ice should be at its maximum extent.
In contrast, regions like South Korea, Japan, India, and Pakistan have been hit by record rainfall and floods.
Experts emphasized that while the global mean temperature itself may not be deadly, the “hottest July ever” manifests in extreme weather events worldwide.
The early stages of an El Nino event, fueled by unusually warm waters in the eastern Pacific, are contributing to the warming trend. Scientists have stressed that human-caused climate change has played a substantial role in the extreme heatwaves of July 2023.
While El Nino’s impacts are expected to peak later in the year and into 2024, it has already started to boost temperatures.
July is traditionally the hottest month of the year, and experts do not project August to surpass this month’s record. However, they expect either 2023 or 2024 to become the hottest year on record, surpassing the previous record-holder, 2016.
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