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Explained: July 2021 is the hottest month on record; what this means

Significantly, seven of the warmest Julys have occurred since 2015.

Asia’s July 2021 surface temperature was 1.61 degrees Celsius higher than average. This made it the highest July temperature that Asia has seen since 1910.

Since 1880, the month of July 2021 was the hottest on Earth. This is what the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) July report on global climate has said. While July is typically the hottest month on Earth, July 2021 has earned the number one spot as the world’s warmest July ever recorded in NOAA’s 142-year history of record keeping.

Significantly, seven of the warmest Julys have occurred since 2015. NOAA’s National Centers for Environmental Information, which released the report, has also said that it is likely that 2021 will feature in the list of the ten warmest years on record.

Some figures from the report  

The report says that the global land-only surface temperature for July was 1.40 degrees Celsius above the 20th-century average, making it the highest July land-only surface temperature on record.

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The previous record was held by Julys in 2017 and 2020. The warmth across the global land surfaces was driven by higher than normal temperatures across much of the Northern Hemisphere land.

In particular, Asia’s July 2021 surface temperature was 1.61 degrees Celsius higher than average. This made it the highest July temperature that Asia has seen since 1910.

Climate anomalies and events in July 2021

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The report notes some of the significant climate anomalies and events seen in July 2021.

Arctic sea ice extent: The Arctic sea ice extent was 18.8 per cent below the 1981-2010 average levels.

North America: The continent saw its sixth-highest July temperature on record.

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 South America: The continent saw its tenth-warmest July on record and much of the continent experienced above-average conditions.

Europe: Europe saw its second-warmest July (tied with 2010) on record. Several parts of Europe were affected by a heatwave that brought temperatures above 40 degrees Celsius by the end of July.

Africa: Africa’s July 2021 was the seventh-warmest on record.

Asia: Asia saw its warmest July on record surpassing the previous record that was set in 2010.

Australia: Australia saw its fourth-warmest July on record. Within Australia, South Australia, Western Australia and the Northern Territory had a top-three warm July.

Globally, what does temperature increase really mean?

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Over the years, various reports have sounded an alarm about rising greenhouse emissions and why global temperatures should not be allowed to exceed by more than 1.5 degrees Celsius preferably.

The global temperature increase is crucial because if the planet warms by 1.5 degrees Celsius, about 14 per cent of the Earth’s population may be exposed to severe heat waves at least once every five years, NASA notes.

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At a temperature increase of 2 degrees Celsius, 37 per cent of the global population will be exposed to the same. Significantly, extreme heatwaves are likely to become widespread if the global temperature increases by 1.5 degrees Celsius.

One way that severe heat waves can wreak havoc is by encouraging wildfires that cause destruction to property, infrastructure and force mass evacuations. Greece, Turkey and the western US have seen devastating wildfires recently. While wildfires are not atypical in the summer months and are even important for ecological succession, the increase in the number of large wildfires is a cause for concern.

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First published on: 14-08-2021 at 03:28:42 pm
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