Monday may have been Earth’s warmest day on record. Then it got even hotter.
HOT HOT A visitor to Signal Hill seeks respite from hotter temperatures inland. Preliminary data show Monday and Tuesday were the hottest days on record in terms of global average temperature.
Researchers this week announced that Monday might have been the hottest day recorded on Earth, a record that lasted all of a day.
Although scientists still need to verify global average temperature figures to officially cement this week’s sweltering milestones, experts say the data reflect the continued effects of climate change, and may not be the last records set this year given the return of El Niño.
The global average daily temperature Monday was 62.6 degrees (16.5 C)— the highest since modern record-keeping began more than four decades ago, according to the University of Maine’s Climate Reanalyzer project. The average temperature Tuesday was higher still, 62.9 degrees, (17 C) data show.
The previous record captured by the project, 62.46 degrees, was set in 2016.
Monday’s record was “driven by the combination of El Niño on top of global warming,” according to Robert Rohde, lead scientist with Berkeley Earth, an environmental data science nonprofit.
“We may well see a few even warmer days over the next six weeks,” he wrote on Twitter.
Climate Reanalyzer data come from a National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration computer simulation that pulls information from satellite imagery used for weather forecasts.
The global records likely set Monday and Tuesday are preliminary. Over the next several weeks, researchers will analyze the data to verify the temperatures based on NOAA guidelines.
Rohde noted that data from the Climate Reanalyzer only go back to 1979. But, he added, “other data sets let us look further back and conclude that this day was warmer than any point since instrumental measurements began, and probably for a long time before that as well.”
“Global warming is leading us into an unfamiliar world,” he said.
The European Union’s Copernicus Climate Change Service, which uses a different model for temperature analysis, announced that its preliminary data for Monday were also record-breaking.
Although an average of 62.9 degrees doesn’t sound particularly warm, researchers point out some parts of the globe are in the middle of winter. Antarctic sea ice at the end of June was nearly a million square miles below average for this time of year, compared with data from 1981 to 2010, according to a recent NOAA report. That’s almost four times the size of Texas.
In California, high pressure brought hot conditions to the mountains, deserts and interior valleys over the first half of this week. Significant cooling was expected Thursday, but temperatures are expected to heat up again next week, forecasters say.
Large swaths of China and other Asian Pacific countries are being smothered under a oppressive heatwave that has lingered for more than a week, according to media reports. Meanwhile, Eastern Canada is in the grips of a broiling heatwave and wildfires that have burned more than 20 million acres and blanketed parts of the Midwest and East Coast in smoke.
The mercury has spiked across the U.S., too. This Fourth of July was the hottest on record in Tampa, Fla. — with temperatures hitting 97 degrees, according to the National Weather Service.
Phoenix is seeing slightly above normal temperatures, even by its typically broiling standards. Forecasts show temperatures will remain above 110 degrees heading into next week, said meteorologist Gabriel Lojero with the local National Weather Service forecast office.
“This is typical for this time of year. We usually get 110 degrees for the region. Average is 107 for this time of the year. We’re observing temperatures slightly above normal,” Lujero said Wednesday.
Deadly heat waves fueled by climate change are becoming more common in parts of the U.S., experts say.
For the first time in several years, El Niño conditions have formed in the tropical Pacific, bringing with it “a likely surge in global temperatures and disruptive weather and climate patterns,” according to the World Meteorological Organization.
“The onset of El Niño will greatly increase the likelihood of breaking temperature records and triggering more extreme heat in many parts of the world and in the ocean,” WMO Secretary-General Petteri Taalas said in a statement.
Along with warmer ocean waters, El Niño can mean increased rainfall in some parts of the world. In the United States, the weather pattern’s influence is typically weaker during the summer and more pronounced in late fall through early spring. Drier conditions are possible for parts of the northern U.S. and Canada — with wetter weather farther south, according to the NOAA.
Taalas warned that El Niño’s arrival should be a signal to governments around the globe to prepare for extreme weather. El Niño occurs every two to seven years, and can last anywhere from nine months to a year, according to the WMO.
The agency recently predicted there is a 98% likelihood that at least one of the next five years — and the five-year period as a whole — will be the warmest on record.
“Early warnings and anticipatory action of extreme weather events associated with this major climate phenomenon are vital to save lives and livelihoods,” Taalas said.