July 2019 has replaced July 2016 as the hottest month on record, with meteorologists saying that global temperatures marginally exceeded the previous record.
The European Union’s Copernicus Climate Change Programme, which analyzes temperature data from around the planet, said that July was around 0.56 °C warmer than the global average temperature between 1981-2010.
That’s slightly hotter than July 2016, when the world was in the throes of one of the strongest El Niño events on record.
El Niño events are characterized by warming of the ocean waters in the Pacific Ocean and have a pronounced warming effect on the Earth’s average temperature.
Though there was a weak El Niño in place during the first part of 2019, it is transitioning to a more neutral phase, making the extreme July temperatures even more alarming.
Jean-Noël Thépaut, head of the Copernicus program, said: “While July is usually the warmest month of the year for the globe, according to our data it also was the warmest month recorded globally by a very small margin.”
“With continued greenhouse gas emissions and the resulting impact on global temperatures, records will continue to be broken in the future,” he added.
According to Copernicus, 2015 through 2018 have been the four warmest years on record. April, May and July this year all ranked among the warmest on record for those months, and this June was the hottest ever.
Freja Vamborg, a senior scientist at Copernicus, told CNN last week that the data suggested we are on track for the second-hottest year ever, after 2016.
The temperature record was close to 1.2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels.
This means we are rapidly approaching the crucial threshold of 1.5 degrees, which will precipitate the risk of extreme weather events and food shortages for hundreds of millions of people.
The UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change warned last year that we have until 2030 to avoid such catastrophic levels of global warming and called on governments to meet their obligations under the landmark 2015 Paris Agreement.
Almost 200 countries and the European Union have pledged to keep the global temperature below 2 degrees Celsius as part of the Paris Agreement.
Petteri Taalas, secretary-general of the World Meteorological Organization, said last week that this July has “rewritten climate history, with dozens of new temperature records at the local, national and global level.”
The July record comes after a period of extremely hot weather around the world.
Intense heat waves have swept Europe this summer, breaking temperature records in at least a dozen countries. Scientists have warned that the world should expect more scorching heat waves and extreme weather due to climate change.
Europe wasn’t the only region baking in July. Anchorage, Alaska, recorded its hottest month ever, and extreme heat helped facilitate “unprecedented” wildfires in the Arctic and triggered mass melting of Greenland’s ice sheet.
“This is not science fiction. It is the reality of climate change. It is happening now, and it will worsen in the future without urgent climate action. Time is running out to rein in dangerous temperature increases with multiple impacts on our planet,” Taalas stressed.