July Could Be Earth’s Hottest Month on Record, Climate Expert Warns
After the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration confirmed that last month was the hottest June on record, a climate expert at NASA is now predicting that July could be Earth’s hottest month on record.
Gavin Schmidt, director of Goddard Institute for Space Studies at NASA, warned at a NASA meeting on climate and recent extreme weather events that July could be the warmest in centuries or millennia.
“We are seeing unprecedented changes all over the world — the heat waves that we are seeing in the U.S., in Europe, in China are demolishing records left, right and center,” Schmidt said, as reported by the Los Angeles Times. “This last June was the warmest June on record, and we anticipate, with the understanding of what’s going on on a day-by-day basis, that July is likely to be the warmest absolute month on record.”
In early July, Earth passed the highest average global temperature record three days in a row. Currently, much of the world is experiencing extreme heat, wildfires and flooding. Last week, NPR reported that about one-third of people in the U.S. were under excessive heat warnings, particularly as a heat wave came across the Southwest. In Phoenix, Arizona, temperatures have soared over 110°F for 20 days and counting in what could be the worst recorded heat wave for the desert city.
Scientists predicted a strong El Niño this year, and the World Meteorological Organization reported in June that this year’s El Niño could continue with moderate or greater strength through the end of the year. That could mean more extreme heat and increasing ocean surface temperatures. Ocean surface temperatures already broke records earlier this year.
“Pretty much everywhere, particularly in the oceans, we’ve been seeing record-breaking sea-surface temperatures — even outside of the tropics,” Schmidt said, as Space.com reported. “We anticipate that is going to continue, and the reason why is because we continue to put greenhouse gases into the atmosphere. Until we stop doing that, temperatures will keep on rising.”
Schmidt also predicted that 2023 could be the warmest year on record, as El Niño could impact temperatures over the next couple of years and global warming continues to cause rising temperature averages. Schmidt pointed out that the extreme heat is not surprising, as temperatures have been rising each decade for the past 40 years.
“What we know from science is that human activity and principally greenhouse gas emissions are unavoidably causing the warming that we’re seeing on our planet,” senior climate adviser Kate Calvin said in the meeting, as reported by The Guardian. “This is impacting people and ecosystems around the world.”
In addition to warning about the potential record-breaking temperatures, the scientists in the meeting shared NASA’s climate work, which includes missions to track greenhouse gas emissions. The agency also shared its new Earth Information Center, where people will be able to access real-time climate data from NASA’s satellites.