US agency: ‘First place is the worst place’, after hottest July on record

16 Aug 2021

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The agency said that recent data ‘adds to the disturbing and disruptive path’ that the Earth is facing due to the climate crisis.

The global temperature for July 2021 placed it as the hottest month ever recorded in the 142 years since monitoring began.

Every year, the US-based National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) records worldwide temperatures on land and sea. It warned that last month, Earth saw unprecedented heat.

The combined land and ocean-surface temperature in July was 0.93 degrees Celsius above the 20th century average. This is 0.01 degrees Celsius higher than temperatures recorded in July 2016, 2019 and 2020 – the previous joint record holders.

The land-surface only temperature in the Northern Hemisphere was also the highest ever measured in July, climbing 1.54 degrees Celsius above the average. Europe had its second-hottest July on record, coming in only below the levels recorded in 2018.

“In this case, first place is the worst place to be,” said NOAA administrator Rick Spinrad.

“July is typically the world’s warmest month of the year, but July 2021 outdid itself as the hottest July and month ever recorded. This new record adds to the disturbing and disruptive path that climate change has set for the globe.”

The agency said that as a result of July being the hottest month on record, it remains very likely that 2021 will be among the Earth’s 10 warmest years on record.

The NOAA report also looked at sea ice and tropical storms. Overall, global tropical cyclone activity so far this year was found to be above average for the amount of named storms.

It was a mixed bag for sea ice, as Arctic ice coverage was the fourth smallest for July in 43 years, with 2012, 2019 and 2020 having a smaller extent of coverage. Meanwhile, Antarctic sea ice extent was above average for July, clocking in at the largest since 2015.

Overall, the NOAA figures reflect the findings of the IPCC report released last week, which highlighted the worsening reality of the climate crisis.

Spinrad commented on the IPCC report last week, saying: “People are in harm’s way, infrastructure is increasingly outdated and in many places not designed for the new environmental realities, and extreme weather events continue to occur one after another.

“We have a narrow window of time to avoid very costly, deadly and irreversible future climate impacts. It is the consensus of the world’s scientists that we need strong and sustained reduction in greenhouse gases.”

Sam Cox is a journalist at Silicon Republic covering sci-tech news

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