For the third day in a row, Earth has experienced a new unofficial high temperature record. This milestone marks another instance of extreme weather patterns driven by climate change.
According to the University of Maine's Climate Reanalyzer, which employs satellite data and computer simulations to assess global conditions, the average global temperature reached 62.9 degrees. This figure matches the record set on Tuesday and follows the previous record of 62.6 degrees established on Monday.
Furthermore, the European Union's climate monitoring service reported that last month, June, was the hottest on record since the inception of temperature tracking. Agence France-Presse stated that the EU monitor's C3S climate unit announced, "The month was the warmest June globally, exceeding June 2019 - the previous record - by a substantial margin,"
For several months, scientists have issued warnings about the potential for record-breaking heat in 2023. They attribute this increase in temperature to human-caused climate change, primarily driven by the combustion of fossil fuels such as coal, natural gas, and oil, which contribute to atmospheric warming.
In addition, they have observed a shift from La Niña, a natural cooling of the ocean that has acted as a mitigating factor against global warming, to El Niño, a phenomenon characterized by warmer ocean temperatures. Notably, the North Atlantic region has experienced unprecedented warmth throughout the year.
According to a statement by Stanford University climate scientist Chris Field, who was not part of the calculations:
A record like this is another piece of evidence for the now massively supported proposition that global warming is pushing us into a hotter future.- Chris Field, Stanford University climate scientist
Although the daily temperature figures provided by the University of Maine's Climate Reanalyzer are not considered official government records, they offer a valuable snapshot of the ongoing changes in our warming world, according to climate scientist Sean Birkle, who developed the tool.
National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) chief scientist Sarah Kapnick acknowledged the significance of these unofficial figures, stating that they provide insight into the current state of global temperatures. NOAA has expressed its intention to incorporate these data points into its official record calculations.
While the dataset used for the unofficial records only spans back to 1979, Kapnick explained that when considering other available data, it is probable that we are experiencing the hottest days in "several hundred years."
Typically, scientists rely on longer-term measurements spanning months, years, or even decades to monitor global warming trends. However, the occurrence of daily temperature highs serves as an indicator that climate change is venturing into uncharted territory.
A woman drinking water from a transparent PET bottle under the shiny sun
This week, high-temperature records were broken in Quebec, Canada, and Peru, highlighting the severity of the heatwave. In Beijing, China, temperatures surpassed 95 degrees Fahrenheit for nine consecutive days, prompting authorities to halt all outdoor work on Wednesday due to forecasts of temperatures exceeding 104 degrees.
These record-breaking temperatures have affected regions unaccustomed to such extreme heat. In North Grenville, Ontario, ice hockey rinks were transformed into cooling centers on Wednesday as temperatures reached 90 degrees Fahrenheit, with humidity making it feel like 100 degrees.
City spokeswoman Jill Sturdy made a statement saying:
I feel like we live in a tropical country right now. It just kind of hits you. The air is so thick.- Jill Sturdy, city spokeswoman
On Wednesday, approximately 38 million Americans were under various heat alerts, as noted by NOAA chief scientist Sarah Kapnick. Several cities across the United States, ranging from Medford, Oregon to Tampa, Florida, have been experiencing near-record high temperatures, as confirmed by Zack Taylor, a meteorologist from the National Weather Service.
However, data from the Climate Reanalyzer reveals that significant temperature anomalies this week have primarily occurred over the world's oceans, particularly the Antarctic Ocean. This highlights the impact of rising temperatures on marine environments and underscores the global nature of climate change.
"Temperatures have been unusual over the ocean and especially around the Antarctic this week because wind fronts over the Southern Ocean are strong, pushing warm air deeper south," said Raghu Murtugudde, professor of atmospheric, oceanic and earth system science at the University of Maryland and visiting faculty at the Indian Institute of Technology, Bombay.
According to Murtugudde, the heat absorbed by the oceans is penetrating deeper. He emphasizes that as greenhouse gas emissions increase, the oceans are serving as a significant heat reservoir, absorbing approximately 93% of the additional heat generated.
Interestingly, certain regions experienced unusually cold weather for the time of year, including southeast Australia and large parts of India. While an average global temperature record of 62.9 degrees may not appear extremely hot, considering the prevalence of temperatures nearing 100.4 degrees in many locations, it becomes significant. In fact, Tuesday's global high temperature was nearly 1.8 degrees higher than the average from 1979 to 2000, which itself exceeded the average temperatures of the 20th and 19th centuries.
Alan Harris, the director of emergency management for Seminole County, Florida, stated that the county has already surpassed last year's count for activating its extreme weather plan. This plan is implemented when the heat index reaches 108 degrees Fahrenheit or higher, indicating the severity of the heatwave.
According to Harris:
It's just been kind of brutally hot for the last week, and now it looks like potentially for two weeks.- Alan Harris, the director of emergency management for Seminole County, Florida
According to the National Weather Service Weather Prediction Center, heat advisories are currently in effect for various regions in the United States. These include portions of western Oregon, inland far Northern California, central New Mexico, Texas, Florida, and the coastal Carolinas. Additionally, excessive heat warnings persist in southern Arizona and California, indicating the severity of the ongoing heatwave in those areas.