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Record-breaking Global Temperatures Shock Scientists

Hottest global temperature ever recorded shattered within days, raising concerns about climate change impacts.

The world may have just experienced the hottest global temperature ever recorded this week, according to data from the U.S. National Centers for Environmental Prediction (NCEP), only to be shattered one day later.

On Monday, the average global temperature reached 17.01 degrees Celsius, or 62.62 Fahrenheit, the highest since NCEP records first started in 1979, according to the University of Maine’s Climate Reanalyzer. As the world was still reeling from Monday’s all-time high temperatures, the record was once again shattered on Tuesday when the average global temperature rose to 17.18 degrees Celsius, or 62.92 Fahrenheit.

The previous record was set in August 2016 — 16.92 degrees Celsius, or 62.46 Fahrenheit.

The European Union’s Copernicus Climate Change Service also announced that Monday’s preliminary global temperature was a record in its dataset.

“This is not a milestone we should be celebrating,” climate scientist Friederike Otto, of the Grantham Institute for Climate Change and the Environment at Britain’s Imperial College London, told Reuters. “It’s a death sentence for people and ecosystems.”

Paulo Ceppi, also a climate scientist at the Grantham Institute, told The Washington Post that Monday’s and Tuesday’s global average temperature had been calculated using a model called the NCEP Climate Forecast System that uses data from a variety of sources, such as weather stations, ships, ocean buoys and satellites.

“This is our ‘best guess’ of what the surface temperature at each point on Earth was yesterday,” he told The Post Wednesday.

Meteorologists warn that this might not be the last shattered record we see this year. On top of the impacts climate change has had on global temperatures, the full onset of El Niño, which has a warming effect, and the dog days of summer in the Northern Hemisphere remain in the days ahead.

“We have seen warming already in northern Africa, Europe, northeast China and now the southern U.S. from Texas to Florida,” AccuWeather Long-Range Forecaster Paul Pastelok said, though noting that he’s unsure how directly and how much the pattern has contributed so far. “El Niño’s warming of the waters not only has risen significantly along the western South America Coast, but other sections of the globe that has resulted in the early and significant heat. A marine heat wave formed early in the year off Africa and western Europe, contributing to high heat and dryness.”

He added that warm waters off the northeast coast of China had led to higher temperatures in the region.

The nation recorded its highest number of hot days over the course of six months since records began, during the first half of the year, according to authorities. Northern China was hit particularly hard, with Shijiazhuang, the capital of the Hebei province, recording 17 high temperature days, or days with a high temperature over 35 degrees Celsius (95 degrees Fahrenheit). Beijing followed with 14 high temperature days.

More heat is expected in northeast China, according to Pastelok.

To the southwest, 44 people died in a brutal heat wave in the Indian state of Bihar.

In the U.S., portions of the South also experienced a searing heat wave, most notably in Texas, where at least 13 people have died from heat-related illnesses as of the end of June. Farther south in Mexico, at least 112 people have died since March due to “natural extreme temperatures,” according to the country’s health secretariat.

A delivery driver cools off in a fountain at a shopping and office complex in Beijing, Saturday, July 1, 2023. An orange alert, the second-highest level of warning, was issued for China’s capital on Saturday as temperatures once again soared to around 40 degrees Celsius (104 degrees Fahrenheit) amid a weeks-long heat wave. (AP Photo/Mark Schiefelbein)

The United Kingdom recorded its hottest June since records began in 1884, according to the Met Office, which is the country’s national weather service. The average temperature was 15.8 degrees C (60.4 F), breaking the previous record of 14.9 degrees C.

Pastelok said he expects higher-than-normal temperatures will continue across northern Africa as temperatures trend upward in southwest Europe and the southwest U.S., contributing to higher global temperatures.

“Based on all of these points, we should continue to see more records broken going forward,” he said.

Otto told CNN that the new global average temperature record is another wakeup call on climate change.

“It just shows we have to stop burning fossil fuels, not in decades, now. This day is just a number, but for many people and ecosystems it’s a loss of life and livelihood.”

Produced in association with AccuWeather

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