Last month marked one of the three hottest Julys ever recorded, with global temperatures measuring nearly half a degree Celsius (0.9F) above average, the United Nations’ weather agency has said.
“The world just had one of the three warmest Julys on record,” Clare Nullis, spokeswoman for the World Meteorological Organization (WMO), told reporters in Geneva on Tuesday.
Pointing to fresh data from the European Union’s Copernicus Climate Change Service (C3S), she said that July 2022 had been slightly cooler than the same month in 2019 and slightly warmer than the one in 2016.
“The difference between the three months is too close to call, so that’s why we’re saying one of the three warmest,” Nullis explained.
Temperatures globally last month were 0.4 degrees Celsius (0.72F) above the 1991-2020 average, the WMO said.
And this despite the fact that the weather phenomenon La Nina, which has held the globe in its clutches almost uninterrupted since September 2020, “is meant to have a cooling influence”.
Notably, the European summer has seen extreme heatwaves and drought, with low precipitation records broken in some countries, the WMO said.
July 2022 was the hottest month ever recorded in Spain, Nullis said.
In a month that saw temperature records broken across parts of northern Europe and the United Kingdom, C3S said July was drier than average for much of the continent, noting a number of low-precipitation records in several locations.
“These conditions affected the economy locally and facilitated the spread and intensification of wildfires,” it said.
C3S said July was also abnormally dry across much of North America, South America, Central Asia and Australia.
Climate change makes extreme heat and drought more likely to occur.
“We can expect to continue seeing more frequent and longer periods of extremely high temperatures, as global temperatures increase further,” said senior C3S scientist Freja Vamborg.
The service said last month was, however, wetter than usual in eastern Russia, northern China and in a large wet band spanning from eastern Africa across Asia to northwest India.
Despite the stifling heat in Europe and elsewhere, July did not clearly break a global heat record last month, since other areas, including along the western Indian Ocean and much of central Asia and Australia, saw below-average temperatures, the agency said.
Meanwhile, C3S recorded the lowest extent of Antarctic sea ice on record for July.
The monitoring service found Antarctic sea ice extent reached 15.3 million square kilometres (5.9 million square miles) – some 1.1 million sq km, or 7 percent, below the 1991-2020 average for July.
This was the lowest ice cover for July since satellite records began 44 years ago, and followed record-low Antarctic sea ice levels for June, too.
The service said in its monthly bulletin the Southern Ocean saw “widespread areas of below-average sea ice concentration” last month.
Arctic sea ice cover, meanwhile, was 4 percent lower than average, making it the 12th lowest July sea ice extent on record.