Forest fires, heat records, droughts: Worldwide, July has only been hotter once since records began in 1979. Antarctic sea ice was also at its lowest level in 44 years. The EU climate change service Copernicus is alarmed.
Last July, with its extreme heat waves, was one of the three warmest on record worldwide. The month was only slightly cooler than July 2019 and marginally warmer than July 2016, said the EU climate change service Copernicus. The average temperature worldwide was almost 0.4 degrees above the period 1991 to 2020, which the service uses as a reference period. Also, July was significantly drier than average across much of Europe, leading to droughts in the south-west and south-east.
It was also drier than usual in South America, Central Asia and Australia. "Heat waves pose a serious health risk, while at the same time they can amplify the intensity and longevity of many other catastrophic climate events - such as wildfires and droughts," said lead Copernicus researcher Freja Vamborg, according to a statement. These would entail enormous risks and damage for agriculture, logistics and energy production.
The long heat wave, which first caused temperatures of more than 40 degrees in Portugal and Spain, but then also in France and Great Britain, led to a number of new record temperatures in many places. According to the Copernicus service, southwestern Europe experienced its warmest July since records began in terms of maximum temperatures.
On average, July was the hottest month in Spain since records began in 1961. With an average temperature of 25.6 degrees, it exceeded July 2015 (the previous record month) by 0.2 degrees Celsius, the meteorological service Aemet said. In addition, this value is 2.7 degrees above the long-term average for the summer month of July. August 2003 now follows in third place with 24.9 degrees.
According to data from the Copernicus service, the extent of sea ice in Antarctica was seven percent below average in July - the lowest level since records began 44 years ago. The Copernicus records go back to 1979. The climate change service also uses data from ground stations, balloons, airplanes and satellites going back to 1950.