Records tumble as temperatures soar across the globe

Africa, Europe, the Middle East and North America endure hottest weather ever observed.

Heatwave California
The heat in western parts of the US continues to encourage wildfires, with more than 60 burning in total. [Eugene Garcia/EPA-EFE]

In the space of 10 days, the world has witnessed not one, but two global records being set.

On June 28, Quriyat, just south of Muscat, on the coast of Oman, recorded a 24-hour minimum temperature of 42.6C. Although not officially confirmed by the World Meteorological organisation, it is the highest such temperature ever recorded on a weather thermometer.

On Thursday, Ouargla, a city of 190,000 people in the Algerian Sahara Desert, reported a maximum temperature of 51.3C. It is likely that this is the highest reliable temperature ever recorded not just in Algeria, but in the entire continent of Africa.

It should be noted that the setting of new maximum temperature records, no matter how many or how widespread, does not outrightly prove climate change theories.

But, the extraordinary cluster of weather records set over the last few weeks, provides yet more evidence, supporting the overwhelming scientific consensus, that our world is warming at an accelerating rate, due to anthropogenic climate change.

The current crop of records extends well beyond the sub-tropical deserts of North Africa and the Middle East.

As far away as Sydney, Australia, in the depths of the Antipodean winter, the city recorded 25C on both Thursday and Friday, making it the warmest consecutive two-day period in July in 159 years of instrument records.

The Caucuses are also seeing record-breaking temperatures. 

Yerevan, the capital of Armenia, hit 42C in a week-long period with temperatures of at least 40C. This was the warmest July day on record and the joint all-time record.

Just two days later, in neighbouring Georgia, Tbilisi had a maximum of 40.5C – also a July record.

Western Europe has witnessed record-low rainfall and record high temperatures since May. The heat has also generated the greatest intensity of thunderstorms across the continent in the last 20 years.

To give one specific record set recently, Motherwell, Scotland, reached 33.2C on June 28, setting a new national record.

Over to North America, where the heatwave in Eastern Canada has now abated, but not before temperatures in Montreal peaked at 36.6C on Monday, the highest temperature ever recorded there. The heat was so severe that at least 50 people were reported to have died; mainly elderly people living without access to air conditioning.

The heat in western parts of the US continues to encourage wildfires, with more than 60 burning in total. Many of the fires are in Colorado where Denver has broken its July temperature record, as well as California. Temperatures of up to 48C have been reported across the state, with the thermometer at the University of California at Los Angeles recording 43.9C, its highest reading since records began in 1933.

Globally, 2018 is likely to be one of the five warmest years since instrumental records began in 1880, and towards the end of this year could be heading towards another El Nino. Aside from all the changes that this brings to global weather patterns, it is associated with a general increase in global temperatures.

When this natural phenomenon is added to the ever-increasing emissions from fossil fuel use that humanity is ejecting into the atmosphere, it will not bode well for the next few summers.

Source: Al Jazeera, News Agencies