World Passes Highest Average Global Temperature Recorded
The average global temperature reached a new high on July 3 at 17.01 degrees Celsius (62.6 degrees Fahrenheit), the highest average since records initially began in the 19th century and since satellite monitoring began in the 1970s. July 4 was even hotter, reaching 0.17 degrees Celsius (0.31 degrees Fahrenheit) higher.
The high temperatures come after scientists strongly predicted an El Niño event to happen and push the world to record high average temperatures.
“The average global surface air temperature reaching 17C for the first time since we have reliable records available is a significant symbolic milestone in our warming world,” said climate researcher Leon Simons, as reported by the BBC. “Now that the warmer phase of El Niño is starting we can expect a lot more daily, monthly and annual records breaking in the next 1.5 years.”
Coupled with high greenhouse gas emissions, the United Nations’ World Meteorological Organization (WMO) has also predicted that El Niño could push global temperatures past the thresholds that would limit the worst impacts of climate change.
As for this week’s record-setting average temperatures, the rest of the week could see similar highs. As The Associated Press reported, the Climate Reanalyzer tool by the University of Maine shows that the average temperature in Antarctica alone for July 5 is 4.5 degrees Celsius (8.1 degrees Fahrenheit) higher than the average temperature from 1979 to 2000.
“The increasing heating of our planet caused by fossil fuel use is not unexpected, it was predicted already in the 19th century after all,” Stefan Rahmstorf, climate scientist at the Potsdam Institute for Climate Research in Germany, told The Associated Press. “But it is dangerous for us humans and for the ecosystems we depend on. We need to stop it fast.”
Much of the U.S. and Mexico have faced a deadly heat wave over the past week, and sudden ocean warming in the North Atlantic has put marine life at risk. In May, Shanghai reached a monthly average of 97 degrees Fahrenheit and broke its record high average for May, which had previously dated back to 1876. Axios reported that last month was the hottest June on record for Earth.
While single-day averages aren’t as utilized as monthly, annual, or decade averages, scientists are still concerned over the recent record-breaking global average temperatures and expect more records to be broken in the coming months.
“Chances are that July will be the warmest ever, and with it the hottest month ever: ‘ever’ meaning since the Eemian which is some 120,000 years ago,” said Karsten Haustein, of the University of Leipzig, as reported by the BBC. “While southern hemisphere temperatures will drop a bit in the next few days, chances are that July and August will see even warmer days yet given that El Niño is now pretty much in full swing.”