July was hotter than any month globally since records began – but some areas, such as the Middle East, suffer more than others
Emma Graham-Harrison Tuesday 16 August 2016 15.31 EDT Guardian UK Last modified on Tuesday 16 August 2016 18.07 EDT
In Siberia, melting permafrost released anthrax that had been frozen in a reindeer carcass for decades, starting a deadly outbreak. In Baghdad, soaring temperatures forced the government to shut down for days at a time. In Kuwait, thermometers hit a record 54C (129F).
July was the hottest month the world has endured since records began in 1880, scientists have said, and brought a painful taste of the troubles people around the world may have to grapple with as global warming intensifies. Results compiled by Nasa showed the month was 0.84C hotter than the 1951-1980 average for July, and 0.11C hotter than the previous record set in July 2015.
The temperature increase last month was not all due to climate change. Part of the increase came from the tail end of the El Niño phenomenon, which spreads warm water across the Pacific, giving a boost to global temperatures.
But scientists said the July record, which came after a string of new month-high temperatures, was particularly striking because it came as the impact of El Niño faded, and added weight to fears that 2016 will go down in history as the hottest year since records began.
“Even if we have it augmented by El Niño, it’s quite concerning as a citizen to see that we are flirting with very high numbers, and a record is a record,” said Jean-Noël Thepaut, head of Europe’s Copernicus climate change service.
He had not expected such a warm July, and said that although his organisation did not forecast temperatures, the high temperatures continued through the start of August and made a record for the year extremely likely. “What we can say over the last seven months is that every month has been a record; we are on good track to have another record year,” he said. Beyond immediate trends, longer-term weather patterns made clear the rise could not be dismissed as the impact of a severe El Niño, he said.
“One fact beyond what we are seeing today, among the last warmest years, 15 years have been obtained in the 21st century and we have not been in El Niño for 10 years. So there is a general longer-term trend,” Thepaut said….