Last week the planet’s hottest on record

Antarctic sea ice sees ‘massive decrease’ as the ocean continues to rise. ‘This is worrying news for the planet,’ World Meteorological Organization says.

The beginning of July was the hottest week on record as a series of searing days saw global temperature records fall.

The news comes after intensifying climate change and the early stages of the El Nino weather pattern drove the hottest June on record, the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) said in a statement on Monday.

“The world just had the hottest week on record according to preliminary data,” the UN agency said.

The temperature data is the latest in a series of records halfway through a year that has already seen a drought in Spain and fierce heatwaves in China and the United States.

Temperatures are breaking records both on land and in the oceans with “potentially devastating impacts on ecosystems and the environment”, the WMO said.

“We are in uncharted territory, and we can expect more records to fall as El Nino develops further and these impacts will extend into 2024,” said Christopher Hewitt, WMO director of climate services.

“This is worrying news for the planet.”


Antarctic’s ‘massive decrease’

Meanwhile, the WMO said Antarctic sea ice levels reached record lows last month as the planet warms. Sea ice levels were 17 percent below average and were the lowest ever seen since satellite observations began.

“We’re used to seeing these big reductions in sea ice in the Arctic but not in the Antarctic. This is a massive decrease,” Michael Sparrow, chief of the WMO’s world climate research programme, told reporters in Geneva.

Global sea surface temperatures were at record highs in May and June, according to the WMO, which warned that the warming of the world’s oceans was spreading fast beyond their surface.

“It is not only the surface temperature, but the whole ocean is becoming warmer and absorbing energy that will remain there for hundreds of years,” the WMO said.

“Alarm bells are ringing especially loudly because of the unprecedented sea surface temperatures in the North Atlantic“.

Oceans rising

The UN organisation said the El Nino weather pattern, which recently emerged, was expected to increase temperatures both on land and in the oceans, which could lead to more marine heatwaves and extreme temperatures.

“We’ve seen unprecedented warmth in the world’s oceans recently, particularly the North Atlantic,” Hewitt told Al Jazeera. “We’ve been observing the ocean rising, and as the world gets warmer and warmer, the sea will continue to rise and will do so for a very long time.”

So what is the cause of these worrying planetary trends?

“Underlying everything is global warming – the continuing rising trend of sea surface and land temperatures for the past several decades as human activities have increased greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere,” said Annalisa Bracco, a professor of ocean and climate dynamics at the Georgia Institute of Technology.

“To lower the risk, the world needs to reduce baseline warming by limiting excess greenhouse gas emissions, like fossil fuels, and move to a carbon-neutral planet. People will have to adapt to a warming climate in which extreme events are more likely and learn how to mitigate their impact.”

Source: Al Jazeera and news agencies