The US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) has confirmed what was already expected – July was not simply the hottest July, but the hottest month since records began in 1880.
According to NOAA, average global temperatures were just shy of 1°C (1.71°F) above the 20th-century average for July, which is 15.8°C or 60.4°F.
It came straight on the tail of the hottest June, which saw temperatures climb 2°C (3.6°F) above normal, and just about manages to nudge July 2016 (0.87°C or 1.57°F above the 20th-century average) off the top spot. But there is one crucial difference between July 2019 and July 2016 – the latter was in the midst of one of the strongest occurrences of the El Niño phenomenon, a climatic event that contributes to heightened global temperatures. The former was not.
As NOAA points out, nine of the 10 hottest Julys have occurred since 2005, and the last five all make the top five. Despite statements certain public figures have made calling "global warming" a hoax, the data says otherwise – last July was the 43rd consecutive July and 415th consecutive month with above-average global temperatures.
Which to say, every month of Wonder Woman's life has been hotter than the 20th century's average. Indeed, the last month it was average or below, Ghostbusters was in the charts and shoulder pads were in fashion.
At the same time – and not entirely unrelatedly – we are seeing record-low levels of sea ice. According to NOAA, satellite data for the month shows the polar ice at its lowest levels recorded, beating the previous low of July 2012. In July 2019, Antarctic sea-ice coverage was 4.3 percent lower than the 1981-2010 average.
As Richard Allan, Professor of Climate Science at the University of Reading said in response to data published by the World Meteorological Organization earlier this month:
"Just as one swallow does not make a summer, one record month does not tell us much on its own since the fickle nature of weather systems and the slow sloshing about of the ocean can sometimes temporarily warm or cool the planet. However, the clustering of recent record hot years and months, the longer-term warming trend and our understanding of the physics of the atmosphere and oceans confirms that our climate is heating up, it’s our fault and the way to stop this is to reduce and begin removing emissions of greenhouse gases."
Let's hope the news urges tougher action on climate change before it is too late.