June sets 13th consecutive monthly heat record. String may end soon, but dangerous heat won’t

According to the European climate service Copernicus, the series of record-breaking warm months on Earth continued for more than a year through June.

Scientists say there is hope the planet will soon see an end to the record-breaking heat wave, but not yet to the climate chaos that came with it.

Global temperatures in June were record highs for the 13th consecutive month and it was the 12th consecutive month that the Earth was 1.5 degrees Celsius (2.7 degrees Fahrenheit) warmer than in pre-industrial times, Copernicus said in an early announcement on Monday.

“It’s a clear warning that we are getting closer to this very important limit set by the Paris Agreement,” Nicolas Julien, a senior climate scientist at Copernicus, said in an interview. “Global temperatures are continuing to rise. And they are rising rapidly.”

That 1.5 degree temperature limit is important because it is the warming limit that nearly all countries in the world agreed to in the 2015 Paris climate accord. But Julien and other meteorologists have said that the limit will not be exceeded until the persistent heat continues for a long time, perhaps 20 or 30 years.

“This is more than a statistical oddity and it highlights an ongoing change in our climate,” Copernicus Director Carlo Buontempo said in a statement.

The globe averaged 62 degrees Fahrenheit (16.66 degrees Celsius) for June 2024, which is 1.2 degrees (0.67 Celsius) above the 30-year average for the month, according to Copernicus. It broke the record for warmest June, set a year earlier, by a quarter of a degree (0.14 degrees Celsius) and is the third-warmest of all months recorded in Copernicus records dating back to 1940, behind only July and August of last year.

It’s not that records are being broken every month, but they have been “broken by very significant margins over the last 13 months,” Julien said.

“How bad is this?” asked climate scientist Andrew Dessler of Texas A&M University, who was not involved in the report. “For the rich, and for now, it’s an expensive inconvenience. For the poor, it’s suffering. In the future, the amount of wealth you need to have just to experience inconvenience will increase until most people are suffering.”

Even without reaching the long-term 1.5 degree threshold, “we have seen the impacts of climate change, these extreme climate events,” Julien said — meaning floods, storms, droughts and heat waves are getting worse.

According to Copernicus, heat hit southeastern Europe, Turkey, eastern Canada, the western United States and Mexico, Brazil, northern Siberia, the Middle East, North Africa and western Antarctica particularly hard in June. Doctors had to treat thousands of heatstroke victims in Pakistan last month when temperatures soared to 117 (47 degrees Celsius).

June also marked the 15th consecutive month in which the oceans, which cover more than two-thirds of the Earth’s surface, broke heat records, according to Copernicus data.

Most of this heat comes from long-term warming from greenhouse gases released by burning coal, oil and natural gas, Julien and other meteorologists say. An overwhelming amount of the heat energy trapped by human-caused climate change goes directly into the ocean, and those oceans take longer to warm and cool.

The natural cycle of El Niños and La Niños, which warm and cool the central Pacific Ocean and change weather worldwide, also plays a role. El Niños tend to break global temperature records, and the strong El Niño that developed last year ended in June.

Another factor is that the air over Atlantic shipping channels is cleaner because of shipping regulations that reduce traditional air pollution particles, such as sulfur, that cause some cooling, scientists say. That masks somewhat the much larger warming effect of greenhouse gases. That “masking effect became smaller and would temporarily increase the rate of warming” already caused by greenhouse gases, said Tianle Yuan, a climate scientist for NASA and the University of Maryland Baltimore Campus who led a study on the effects of shipping regulations.

Climate scientist Zeke Hausfather of the technology company Stripes and the Berkeley Earth Climate-Monitoring Group said in a post on X that with all six months of this year recording record temperatures, “there is about a 95% chance that 2024 will beat 2023 and become the warmest year since global surface temperature measurements began in the mid-1800s.”

Copernicus hasn’t calculated the chances of that yet, Julien said. The U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration last month gave it a 50 percent chance.

Global average daily temperatures in late June and early July were still warm, but not as warm as last year, Julien said.

“I think it’s likely that July 2024 will be colder than July 2023 and that this streak will be over,” Julien said. “It’s still not certain. Things can change.”

Andrew Weaver, a climate scientist at the University of Victoria, said the data showed the Earth was on track for 3 degrees Celsius of warming if emissions were not urgently cut. And he feared that an end to the run of record-warm months and the arrival of winter snows would cause “people to quickly forget about the danger”.

“Our world is in crisis,” said Andrea Dutton, a climate scientist at the University of Wisconsin. “You may be feeling that crisis today — those of us living near Beryl are experiencing a hurricane fueled by an extremely warm ocean that has given rise to a new era of tropical storms that can quickly grow into deadly and costly major hurricanes. Even if you’re not in crisis today, every record temperature we set means the likelihood that climate change will bring a crisis to your home or to your loved ones is greater.”

Copernicus uses billions of measurements from satellites, ships, planes and weather stations around the world and then reanalyses them with computer simulations. Several other countries’ scientific agencies — including NOAA and NASA — also produce monthly climate calculations, but they take longer, go back further in time and do not use computer simulations.


Read more about AP’s climate reporting at http://www.apnews.com/climate-and-environment


Follow Seth Borenstein on X on @borenbears


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