Tuesday, August 6th 2019, 11:56 am - Global temperature record-keeping began in the 1800s.
It's official: July 2019 is the warmest month ever recorded on Earth, with a global average temperature 0.04ºC above the previous warmest July, recorded in 2016. The data from the Copernicus Climate Change Service system confirmed the record this week, also revealing that July 2019 was 0.56ºC warmer than the average for the month (a value measured against the 30-year reference period, 1981 to 2010).
Even though there are still five months left in the year, experts anticipate that 2019 will be one of the five warmest years in history (currently 2014-2018), with a very good chance of even climbing to the very top of the podium.
Surface air temperature anomaly for July 2019 relative to the July average for the period 1981-2010. Data source: ERA5. (Credit: ECMWF, Copernicus Climate Change Service)
In Europe, July saw large differences across the continent. Eastern Europe recorded below-average temperatures, particularly in the northeast section of the continent. Western Europe's short but very intense heat wave toward the end of July was not only enough to land that region above average overall, however, but was enough to outweigh the east's cooler temperatures, leaving the continent in the 'above average' column overall.
SEE ALSO: June 2019 hottest June ever recorded
Globally, temperatures were higher than the 1981 to 2010 average in Alaska, Baffin Island, Greenland, some areas of Siberia, the Republics of Central Asia and Iran, as well as large areas of Antarctica. Africa and Australia have also been especially warm continents, but other areas registered temperatures below the 1981 to 2010 average, like central Canada, some portions of Asia, the Weddell Sea and nearby Antarctica land areas.
Surface air temperature anomaly for August 2018 to July 2019 relative to the average for 1981-2010. Data source: ERA5. (Credit: ECMWF, Copernicus Climate Change Service)
Europe's soaring temperatures were one of the main contributors pushing the global average higher in July. And record temperatures there were the norm not only in July but during June, as well. The heat that spread from Scandinavia to Greenland also accelerated the melting in the Arctic region, and across a good number of European glaciers. It also brought devastating forest fires, burning thousands of hectares in different areas of the Arctic.
Belgium, Germany, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, and the United Kingdom saw new temperature records on July 25. Observations for the latter part of the month showed temperatures above 40ºC for the first time. Paris measured its hottest day ever with a temperature of 42.6ºC, an unprecedented value since records began at the end of the 19th century.
Monthly global-mean and European-mean surface air temperature anomalies relative to 1981-2010, from January 1979 to July 2019. The darker coloured bars denote the July values. Data source: ERA5. (Credit: ECMWF, Copernicus Climate Change Service)
According to WMO, heat waves are becoming more intense and persistent, a signal that climate forecasts made in some of the world's leading research institutions have long anticipated.
Night heat has also played an important role in increasing the global average temperature for the month. Much of Europe's heat came via hot air incursions from North Africa, passing through Spain and France to central Europe and Scandinavia. Norway saw new records on July 27, and 28 observation sites experienced "tropical nights" with minimum temperatures above 20°C. The capital of Finland, Helsinki, set a new record at 33.2ºC on July 28th and in the south of Finland, Porvoo measured a temperature of 33.7ºC.
SEE ALSO: The Arctic is on fire in summer 2019
July 2016 was the previous warmest July on record, mainly due to the presence of an intense El Niño phenomenon. El Niño was also present this July, but it was a much weaker event. Even so, July 2019 remains on track to unseat 2016 from its throne. This goes to show that other climatic factors not related to Earth's natural climate variability -- such as El Niño -- and very likely anthropogenic in nature, are increasingly boosting global temperature.