Global warming continues to gain momentum, and now we have every reason to talk about the hottest day on record. On Monday, we reported that the Earth’s average temperature reached a record high, making it the hottest day since measurements began. But that’s old news, as temperatures rose to an average of 17.18°C (62.9°F) on Tuesday and again on Wednesday.
These record conditions were reached on Tuesday, July 4, and sustained on July 5, according to the University of Maine Climate Reanalyzer, which provides global average temperatures for each day for the past 44 years.
Prior to Monday’s global average temperature of 17.01°C (62.62°F), the previous record of 16.92°C (62.46°F) was set in August 2016 and equaled the previous year.
These figures are not an official record, but use data from the National Center for Environmental Prediction’s Climate Prediction System to estimate temperatures 2 meters (6.6 feet) above the ground based on satellite, balloon and ground weather station measurements.
Various parts of the world have been experiencing extreme heat lately, including the southern United States, China, and North Africa, where temperatures have reached 50°C (122°F). Even Antarctica, where it is winter, has recorded abnormally high temperatures.
Dr. Carsten Haustein, an atmospheric radiation scientist at the University of Leipzig, says, “July is likely to be the warmest month on record, and with it the hottest month on record… ‘always’ means since the Aeemian period, which was really about 120,000 years ago.”
The year 2023 has already seen several other devastating climate records, including record high greenhouse gas emissions and record low Antarctic sea ice. Scientists have been warning for months that La Niña, the cooling phase of the oceans, is giving way to El Niño, the warming phase. On Tuesday, the World Meteorological Organization confirmed that El Niño has indeed returned, which could lead to new record temperatures.
Miles Allen, professor of geosystems at Oxford University, says, “When will be the hottest day? It will happen when global warming, El Niño and the annual cycle line up together. That is, in the next couple of months.” He calls it a triple whammy.
Looking ahead, we can expect global warming to continue and thus temperature records to be broken with increasing frequency unless we take urgent action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to net zero, adds Paulo Cappi, a climate scientist at London’s Grantham Institute.