All signs point toward more record-breaking heat ahead
FRISCO — July 2015 was the hottest month on record for planet Earth by any measure, federal climate scientists said this week during their monthly global climate update. What’s more, the researchers are 99 percent sure that 2015 will end up as the hottest year since humankind has been tracking the climate, going back to about 1880.
That would break the record set just last year and is sure sign that greenhouse gases are inexorably heating the planet, despite year-to-year variations in the rate of warming.Specifically, July 2015’s average global temperature soard 1.46 degrees Fahrenheit above the 20th century average, driven by sea surface temperatures that reached record levels across vast expanses of ocean. Every major ocean basin observed record warmth in some areas.
The strengthening El Niño in the Pacific makes it virtually certain that 2015 will end up breaking last year’s global temperature record. Both land- and sea-surface temperatures are on record pace for the year to-date.
For the first seven months of 2015, the average global temperature was 1.53 degrees Fahrenheit above the 20th century average, making it the warmest such seven-month stretch on record, 0.16 degrees warmer than 2010.
Around the globe, some of the warmest readings came from Europe, where Austria reported its warmest July ever, with records dating back to the 1700s. The average temperature in Austria was 5 degrees Fahrenheit higher than the 1981–2010 average, beating the previous record of +4.9 degrees Fahrenheit set in 2006.
Two major heatwaves, with temperatures reaching 100 degrees Fahrenheit contributed to this heat record, with some stations reporting all-time highs, including Innsbruck, in the Austrian Alps, where a July 7 reading of 100.8 degrees Fahrenheit does not bode well for the region’s glaciers.
Record-breaking heat was observed in parts of the southern United Kingdom at the beginning of July, including the highest temperature recorded in the country since August 2003. However, the heat did not last as westerly Atlantic air flowed in, bringing cooler-than-average temperatures for much of the remainder of the month. So, despite the early record heat, overall, the average July temperature for the UK was 1.1 degrees Fahrenheit lower than the 1981–2010 average.
In the Middle East, strong high pressure delivered what NOAA scientists are calling one of the most extreme heat indices ever recorded in the world. On July 31, according to media reports, in the city of Bandar Mahshahr, Iran, the air temperature 115 degrees Fahrenheit, combined with a dew point of 90 degrees Fahrenheit for a heat index of 165 degrees Fahrenheit.
The average temperature for Africa was the second highest for July on record, behind only 2002, with regional record warmth across much of eastern Africa into central areas of the continent. Record warmth was also observed across much of northern South America, central Asia, and the far western United States.
A large swath stretching from eastern Scandinavia into western Siberia was cooler than average, with part of western Russia much cooler than average. Cooler than average temperatures were also observed across parts of eastern and southern Asia and scattered areas in central and northern North America.
NOAA National Centers for Environmental Information, State of the Climate: Global Analysis for July 2015, published online August 2015. Read the full report at: http://www.ncdc.noaa.gov/sotc/global/201507.