Wednesday, August 15, 2018

Extreme Midsummer Heat in the Northern Hemisphere

Marked by record setting heatwaves in July, this has been an unusually hot summer in the northern hemisphere. All around the world we are seeing evidence of longer and more intense heatwaves. The temperature data over the last three decades clearly indicate that the world is getting warmer and 2018 is no exception. If the trend continues this will be one of the warmest years on record alongside 2015, 2016, and 2017.

July was the hottest month in one of the hottest summers in recorded history. This follows June which was the second warmest on record. Millions of people around the world are trapped in heat domes that are causing protracted heat waves.  Concurrent record setting heat plagued cities across North America, Europe, Asia and Africa.

At the end of June Quriyat, Oman recorded the highest low temperature ever recorded anywhere on earth. The temperature reached 122° F (50 C) during the day and did not drop below 109° F (42.6° C) at night. Early in July we saw all-time high heat records set at Mount Washington, New Hampshire, and Tbilisi, Georgia. Also in July Ouargla, Algeria saw temperatures of 124.3° F (51.3° C) which is the highest temperature ever recorded in Africa.

Especially intense heat waves struck Japan killing 86 people and sending tens of thousands of others to hospital. On July 23, a record was broken when the mercury hit 41.1° C (106° F) in Kumagaya, northwest of Tokyo. In Montreal, Canada more than 50 people died as a result of a protracted heatwave that set records with temperatures approximating 100° F (37.7° C). Other normally temperate climates that are being baked by anomalous heat waves include Ireland and Scotland. In parts of Siberia temperatures were as much as 40 degrees above normal.

High temperature records were also set in Burlington, Vermont, Denver, Colorado and Ottawa, Canada. Los Angeles and several other places in California set records as vast swaths of the state burned

In Europe high temperature records were set in Glasgow, Shannon, Belfast and Castlederg. Eurasia saw records set in Tbilisi, Georgia and Yerevan, Armenia. Several locations in southern Russia topped or matched their warmest temperatures. Early in August a total of 8 separate locations broke all time high temperature records in Portugal reaching as high as 116.6° F (47° C) in some places.

According to the Huffington Post a recent study states that we are at risk of creating "hothouse" conditions with temperature increases of as much as 9° F (5° C) above global average temperatures.

As explained by climate researcher Phil Williamson, from the University of East Anglia, this is an urgent warning. "In the context of the summer of 2018" Williamson said, "this is definitely not a case of crying wolf, raising a false alarm: the wolves are now in sight".

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