Heat, drought, wildfires during warmest July

Amid extreme heat, drought and wildfires, many parts of the world had just experienced one of three warmest Julys on record, the UN weather agency said last week.

According to the World Meteorological Organization (WMO), temperatures were close to 0.4 degrees Celsius above the 1991-2020 average across much of Europe, with southwestern and western Europe being the most above-average regions, because of an intense heatwave around mid-July.

“This is despite the La Niña event that’s meant to have a cooling influence,” WMO spokesperson Clare Nullis explained.

“We saw this in some places, but not globally,” she added.

She noted that it was “one of the three warmest (Julys) on record, slightly cooler than July 2019, warmer 2016 — but the difference is too close to call.”

Record temperatures

Portugal, western France and Ireland broke record highs, while England hit 40 degrees Celsius readings for the very first time.

National all-time records for daily maximum temperatures were also broken in Wales and Scotland.

Spain also had its hottest month on record in July, with an average national temperature of 25.6 degrees Celsius — with a heatwave from 8 to 26 July that was the most intense and longest lasting on record.

Using data from the European Commission’s Copernicus Climate Change Service, the UN weather agency confirmed that Europe had its sixth warmest July.

The heat traveled further north and east ushering very high temperatures across other countries, including Germany and parts of Scandinavia, with local July and all-time records broken at several locations in Sweden.

Temperature anomalies

At the same time, from the Horn of Africa to southern India, and much of central Asia to most of Australia experienced below-average temperatures.

It also dominated a band of territory stretching from Iceland, across Scandinavia via the Baltic countries, continuing as far as the Caspian Sea.

Moreover, temperatures were generally below average in Georgia and throughout much of Türkiye.

Polar ice shrinking

July also saw the lowest Antarctic Sea ice on record, a full seven percent below average.

Arctic Sea ice was four percent below average, ranking 12th lowest for July, according to satellite records.

WMO cited the Copernicus Climate Change Service in saying that Arctic Sea ice concentration was the lowest for July on satellite record, which started in 1979, and sea ice there was the 12th lowest ever.

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