July was earth's hottest month on record

Heating trend driven by fossil-fuel burning and made worse by El Nino, say scientists

MIAMI • Soaring temperatures worldwide made last month the hottest on earth in modern times, setting a new high mark for global heat in 137 years of record-keeping, United States government scientists said on Wednesday.

The report from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) came just two days after the National Aeronautics and Space Administration released its climate data, which also found that July was a record-breaking month.

"July is typically the hottest month for the globe and last month didn't disappoint," said a summary of the monthly report by NOAA.

A child cooling off at a waterfall in Seogwipo on Jeju island, South Korea. The report from the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration found above-average warmth across most of the earth last month, with new records observed in parts of I
A child cooling off at a waterfall in Seogwipo on Jeju island, South Korea. The report from the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration found above-average warmth across most of the earth last month, with new records observed in parts of Indonesia, southern Asia and New Zealand. PHOTO: EUROPEAN PRESSPHOTO AGENCY

SCORCHING IN KUWAIT

The highest maximum temperature (last month) was recorded in Mitribah, Kuwait, when temperatures soared to 52.5 deg C on July 22.

U.S. NATIONAL OCEANIC AND ATMOSPHERIC ADMINISTRATION

"July 2016 was 1.57 deg F (0.87 deg C) above the 20th-century average, breaking last year's record for the warmest July on record by 0.11 deg F."

Scientists said the heating trend is being driven by fossil-fuel burning and is made worse by the ocean-warming phenomenon known as El Nino, which came to an end last month.

Last month's global average of temperatures taken over land and ocean surfaces was the "highest for any month in the NOAA global temperature data-set record, which dates back to 1880".

Last month also marked the 15th consecutive month of breaking monthly temperature records, "the longest such streak in the 137-year record", NOAA said.

The report found above-average warmth across most of the earth, with new records observed in parts of Indonesia, southern Asia, and New Zealand.

Scorching temperatures were seen in parts of the Gulf region, with several locations across Kuwait experiencing temperatures higher than 45 deg C last month.

"The highest maximum temperature (last month) was recorded in Mitribah, Kuwait, when temperatures soared to 52.5 deg C on July 22," the report said.

In Bahrain, the average temperature of 36 deg C for the month was the nation's highest July temperature since national records began in 1902.

New Zealand, Spain and Hong Kong were also unusually warm.

Places that saw near-average or cooler-than-normal temperatures last month included north-western United States, eastern Canada, southern South America, south- western Australia, north central Russia, Kazakhstan and India.

Ocean temperatures were also at a record high, amid concerns that warming waters are contributing to the spread of coral bleaching worldwide.

NOAA said the 13 highest monthly global ocean temperature departures have all occurred in the past 13 months.

Heat records were broken even though El Nino has ended, and neither the warming trend of El Nino or the cooler La Nina prevailed across the tropical parts of the Pacific Ocean last month. But even a break in El Nino, which contributed to the surging global temperatures this year, is not likely to sway this year from its track towards becoming the hottest year in the contemporary era for global heat.

NOAA said the first seven months of the year are the "warmest such period on record, at 1.85 deg F above the 20th-century average". That is one-third of a deg F above the previous record set last year.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 19, 2016, with the headline 'July was earth's hottest month on record'. Print Edition | Subscribe