By Emma Charlton
Wildfires in Catalonia, water handed to homeless people in Toulouse and temperatures running above 45°C in Bahrain.
These were just some of the signs of the world’s hottest-ever June since records began 140 years ago.
The average land and sea temperature was 0.95 degrees Celsius above the global average of 15.5°C, and the scorching weather looks set to continue with a further heatwave engulfing large parts of the world in July.
Eastern Europe, northern Russia, Asia, Africa, South America, the north Indian Ocean, and parts of the Pacific and Atlantic oceans all recorded above-average temperatures, according to the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). On top of that, the year-to-date global temperature was the second warmest January to June ever.
Bahrain experienced its hottest June in more than a century, with the country’s Meteorological Directorate saying the average temperature was 36.3°C, nearly 4°C above what’s normally expected. Twenty days recorded temperatures exceeding 40°C and the hottest clocked in at more than 45°C.
The NOAA’s findings were corroborated by Europe’s Copernicus Climate Change Service (C3S).
“Western and central Europe experienced a short, but intense heatwave,” C3S said. “Although it is difficult to directly attribute this heatwave to climate change, such extreme weather events are expected to become more common as the planet continues to warm under increasing greenhouse gas concentrations.”
Events like this will become more likely in the future, according to Jean-Noël Thépaut, Head of C3S.
And so far, the hot weather seems to be continuing, with a heatwave forecast to bring temperatures of more than 35°C to parts of the UK and the Met Office saying it could even set a new record in the country.
But it’s not all sun loungers, barbecues and running through sprinklers. The heat brings dire consequences, not least the shrinking of the world’s sea ice – which leads to rising sea levels and the Earth absorbing more of the sun’s energy.
The Arctic sea ice extent for June was 10.5% below average. In the Antarctic, this June was the fourth in a row with below-average sea ice extent, and the smallest June extent in the 41-year record, data shows.
And the world keeps on warming: the past five years have, collectively, been the hottest on record, according to NASA figures. Earth’s average surface temperature has risen by 1°C since the 1880s, driven largely by man-made greenhouse gases.
While awareness is increasing, joint action and innovation is needed. The World Economic Forum’s Climate Initiative provides a global platform to help raise ambition and accelerate action on climate change.
With the summer set to keep on sizzling, this kind of action is more important than ever. And while it can be difficult to link one set of events to climate change, experts point to an underlying trend that is only going in one direction.
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