This past Monday, July 3, was measured by some climate forecast systems as the world’s hottest single day ever, with global average daily temperatures near the earth’s surface topping 17 degrees Celsius for the first time since direct measurements began.
A 17 degree Celsius temperature may not appear to be particularly warm considering many places on earth routinely experience temperatures in high 40-plus degree Celsius, sometimes even crossing 50 degree Celsius, but this measurement was not over one place or region. Instead, this was the global average temperature, the average over both land and ocean, recorded two metres above the surface. The previous warmest day happened to be in August 2016 when global average temperature was measured to be 16.92 degree Celsius, scientists said.
Birkel, S.D. ‘Daily 2-meter Air Temperature’, Climate Reanalyzer (https://ClimateReanalyzer.org), Climate Change Institute, University of Maine, USA.
Meanwhile, the World Meteorological Department on Tuesday announced the onset of El Nino phase in eastern equatorial Pacific Ocean and warned that this could lead to further increases in temperature this year.
‘The onset of El Nino will greatly increase the likelihood of breaking temperature records and triggering more extreme heat in many parts of the world and in the ocean,’ WMO Secretary General Petteri Taalas said in a statement.
El Nino, an abnormal warming of sea surface waters in eastern equatorial Pacific Ocean, off the northwestern coast of South America, is a largescale climate driver known to have an overall warming effect on the planet.
The record-breaking temperature of Monday was reported by the University of Maine using data captured by the Climate Forecast System (CFS) of the National Centers for Environmental Prediction (NCEP) of the United States. The measured temperature was about 0.8 degree Celsius higher than the normal expected during this time of the year.
‘Though NCEP CFSR (the dataset in question) only begins in 1979, other datasets let us look further back and conclude that this day (Monday) was warmer than any point since instrumental measurements began, and probably for a long time before that as well,’ said Robert Rohde, lead scientist of the Earth Team at the University of Berkeley, US, in a statement on Twitter.
‘This (the new record) is driven by the combination of El Nino on top of global warming, and we may well see a few even warmer days over the next six weeks,’ Rohde said.
The latest revelation comes on the back of a series of record-breaking warming events this year. The UK Met Office announced on Tuesday that the past month was the hottest ever June for UK. Before that, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration of the United States had measured this year’s March to be the earth’s second-warmest ever, May to be the third warmest ever, and February and April to be the fourth warmest ever.
Several regions around the world are currently experiencing very high temperatures. Canada is battling its worst forest fires ever, while China is in the midst of a severe heat wave, both events having made at least five times more likely by climate change according to rapid attribution studies.
The WMO, in its annual State of Global Climate report, published in May, had said that it was almost certain that at least one of the next five years (2023 to 2027) would turn out to be the warmest year on record, leaving 2016, the current record holder, behind. It had further said that there was a 66 per cent chance that at least one of these years would also breach the 1.5 degree Celsius threshold, meaning that average global temperatures in that year would be at least 1.5 degree Celsius higher than pre-industrial times.