Hottest global temperature ever recorded this week, climate tracking agencies say

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Wednesday, July 5, 2023
Hottest day on Earth recorded this week
Tuesday was the hottest day ever recorded for the planet, with average global temperature hitting 17.18 degrees Celsius or 62.92 degrees Fahrenheit.

CHICAGO (WLS) -- This week saw the hottest global temperature ever recorded, according to data from two climate tracking agencies.

On Monday, the average global temperature reached 17.01 degrees Celsius (62.62 Fahrenheit), the highest in the US National Centers for Environmental Prediction's data, which goes back to 1979. On Tuesday, it climbed even further, reaching 17.18 degrees Celsius. The previous record of 16.92 degrees Celsius was set in August 2016.

The National Centers for Environmental Prediction also said June was the hottest month ever recorded.

"It's been getting hotter and hotter every year, and every year we're breaking new records," said Max Berkelhammer, professor of Earth and Environmental Sciences at University of Illinois at Chicago. "It's frustrating. It's a little scary to hear it, knowing the threats that type of heat imposed on communities."

Berkelhammer said as the Earth's temperature continues to rise due to human activity, plus current natural El Niño heat, it can only serve to strengthen existing climate and weather events, making them even more extreme.

"(With) that added heat, the air can carry more moisture so when you get large storms, they can be more extreme and the rain associated with those storms can be more devastating," he said.

He said it's the same with wildfires in already heat-stressed forests; they can burn hotter and longer.

"When you don't have these cool periods between them where the fires slow down they're going to continue to get more extreme," he said.

Experts warn that the record could be broken several more times this year. Robert Rohde, lead scientist at Berkeley Earth, said in a Twitter post on Tuesday that the world "may well see a few even warmer days over the next 6 weeks."

This global record is a preliminary one, but it's another indication of how fast the world is heating up, as the arrival of the natural climate phenomenon El Niño, which has a warming effect, is layered on top of climate change-fueled global heating.

Extreme, life-threatening heat events in Chicago could also be made worse.

"A slight increase in the frequency of those a slight increase in the extreme of those can cause major health impacts, particularly to marginalized communities in the city," Berkelhammer said.

According to data analyzed by the ABC7 Data Team, localized heat indexes have been rising in the Chicago area. According to the CDC, in the decade from 2010 to 2019, the number of days with 40-year record breaking heat index in Cook County more than doubled compared to the decade from 1990 to 1999, increasing from 27 to 69 days.

And experts at the Chicago Museum of Science and Industry said we're not immune from extreme weather events just because the Chicago area is not on a coast.

"This is all part of an interconnected system so when one part changes other things adjust as well. So as the temperatures rise and ice melts in the Arctic, that raises sea levels all around the world. That changes, temperature wind, rain, and precipitation patterns all over," said Dr. Patricia Ward, Museum of Science and Industry AVP of Exhibitions and Partnerships and Head Scientist.

Ward said reducing carbon emissions is just one part of a multi-pronged approach.

"There is no single solution," she said. "What we are seeing more and more, and even more rapidly and more frequent, are extreme events. And that is some of what we're seeing both with the hottest temperatures as well as extreme storms, the flooding, the drought, the fires all of these things are emblematic of those disruptions in the climate."

This year has already seen heat records broken around the world, with devastating consequences.

In the US, Texas and the South sweltered in a brutal heat wave in late June, with triple-digit-Fahrenheit temperatures and extreme humidity. Soaring temperatures in Mexico have killed at least 112 people since March.

A searing heat wave in India killed at least 44 people across the state of Bihar. China, too, has experienced several blistering heat waves and it registered the highest number of hot days - where the maximum daily temperature exceeded 35 degrees Celsius (95 degrees Fahrenheit) - over a six-month period since records began.

The UK recorded the hottest June since records began in 1884, according to the country's national weather service, the Met Office. The average temperature for the month was 15.8 degrees Celsius (60.4 Fahrenheit), breaking the previous record by 0.9 degree Celsius.

"Alongside natural variability, the background warming of the Earth's atmosphere due to human induced climate change has driven up the possibility of reaching record high temperatures," Paul Davies, Met Office climate extremes principal fellow and chief meteorologist, said in a statement.

As the climate crisis intensifies, scientists are clear that record-breaking heat waves are set to become more frequent and more severe.

The new global average temperature record is another wake-up call, Otto told CNN. "It just shows we have to stop burning fossil fuels, not in decades, now. This day is just a number, but for many people and ecosystems it's a loss of life and livelihood."

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The CNN Wire contributed to this report