Climate Change

Northern Hemisphere just recorded its hottest summer

The five warmest summers ever recorded have occurred in the past five years

Published: Tuesday 17 September 2019

Climate record keepers changed another set of statistics in 2019. The summer this year in the northern hemisphere is now tied with the summer of 2016 as the hottest since 1888 when temperature record-keeping began.

The average surface temperature of the northern hemisphere during the 2019 summer — June to August — was 1.13 degrees Celsius (2.03°Fahrenheit) hotter than the 20th-century average, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).  

NOAA also informed that the average global temperature in August stood at 16.5°C, about 9°C above the 20th-century average. The temperature is tied with 2015 and 2017 as the second-hottest August in the 140-year record.

“Record-warm August temperature departures from average prevailed across parts of the northern and western Pacific Ocean, the Bering Sea, northern and southern parts of North America, the Atlantic Ocean, Indian Ocean as well as parts of Africa and Central Asia. No land or ocean areas had record-cold August temperatures,” NOAA’s analysis noted.

The five warmest summers ever recorded have occurred in the past five years.

What was peculiar this year was the lack of a strong El Niño event. El Niño is periodical climate event where the temperature in the tropical Pacific Ocean rises over normal for an extended period of time. This can influence global weather systems and temperatures.

Similarly, in 2016, there was no El Niño event at all but the summer temperatures were at an all-time high.

The average global land surface temperatures were also higher by 1.23°C (2.20°F). This makes it the third warmest summer after 2016 and 2017. The global sea temperatures were higher by 0.82°C (1.48°F).

The high temperatures have had an effect on the ice melt in the Arctic. The August average Arctic sea ice extent was the second smallest in the last 41-year. It had reduced by 838,000 square miles (30.1 per cent) below the 1981–2010 average.

Europe saw its worst heatwaves this summer. Paris experienced the highest temperature at 42.6°C.

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