Thursday, August 8, 2019

July 2019 Hottest Month On Record

The July 2019 temperature was on a par with, and possibly marginally higher than, that of July 2016, according to a World Meteorological Organization (WMO) news release pointing an image by the Copernicus Climate Change Programme that is used as the background for above image.

Previously, July 2016 was the hottest July on record with a global land and ocean temperature of 16.67°C (62.01°F), or 3.25°C above the pre-industrial temperature of 13.42°C (56.16°F) and surpassing the record set before that, in July 2015.

The July 2019 Surface Temperature was 16.7°C in real temperatures (as opposed to anomalies), as illustrated by the image on the right, supplied by James Hansen and constructed using Dr. Phil Jones climatology and GISS 250 km smoothing of anomalies.

The image also shows, James Hansen adds, that the monthly mean of the daily mean (not daily maximum) exceeded 35°C (95°F) in parts of North Africa and the Middle East.

The month July typically is the hottest month of the year. July 2019 was 2.34°C (or 4.21°F) hotter than the 1980-2015 annual global mean, and July 2019 was the hottest July on record, making it the hottest month on record to date.

According to NASA data, July 2016 was 2.26°C hotter than the 1980-2015 annual global mean, and August 2016 was actually the previously hottest month on record with 2.31°C above the 1980-2015 annual mean, so August 2019 could be even hotter, which is quite remarkable given that we're currently in an El Niño-neutral period.

There's a spread of more than 3°C between the coldest and hottest monthly temperatures, in line with the seasonal cycle. Since the land/sea ratio is larger on the Northern Hemisphere and land heats up faster than oceans, July typically is the hottest month of the year, so the annual mean temperature for the year 2019 will be somewhat lower than the temperature for July 2019.

Above image takes another perspective, showing NASA Land and Ocean Temperature Index (LOTI) data that are adjusted 0.78° to reflect a 1750 baseline (as opposed to NASA's default 1951-1980 baseline), to reflect ocean air temperatures (as opposed to sea surface temperatures) and higher polar anomaly (to better reflect absent data).

Two trends are added, based on the adjusted data, as described in an earlier analysis. The blue long-term trend is based on 1880-July 2019 data and points at a 3°C (or 5.4°F) rise by 2026. The red short-term trend is based on 2012-July 2019 data, to better illustrate El Niño/La Niña variability and the danger that large methane eruptions from the seafloor of the Arctic Ocean could result in near-term human extinction.

NASA's LOTI anomaly of 0.93°C above 1951-1980 for July 2019 becomes 1.71°C above pre-industrial when adjusted as described above. The trends also show that it could be 1.85°C above pre-industrial, in line with the earlier analysis that already pointed at a potential mean temperature for 2019 of 15.27°C, or 1.85°C above pre-industrial. Depending on what will happen in the Arctic and on further variables such as the strength of El Niño over the remainder of the year, 2019 could even cross the 2°C guardrail that politicians at the Paris Agreement pledged would not be crossed.

Above image shows the worrying rise of Northern Hemisphere sea surface temperature anomalies from the 20th century average, with the added trend illustrating the danger that this rise will lead to Arctic sea ice collapse and large methane eruptions from the seafloor of the Arctic Ocean, further accelerating the temperature rise.

Unbearable heat

As temperatures keep rising, there are places on the northern hemisphere where the July heat is becoming ever harder to bear.

The image on the right shows that on July 29, 2019, it felt like it was as hot as 57.2°C or 135°F in China (in the area marked by the green circle).

How could it get this hot? As the image underneath on the right shows, the temperature in that area was 35.1°C or 95.1°F (at the right circle), while it was much hotter at some places elsewhere in China, e.g. it was 41.5°C or 106.6°F at the left circle on July 29, 2019.

What made the weather so hard to bear was a combination of high temperature and high relative humidity, which was 81% in the area at the circle on the right at the time.

The jet stream is becoming ever more deformed as the Arctic heats up faster than the rest of the world. On July 29, 2019, the jet stream was all over the place, with a strong presence north of the circle, which made warm, moist air from the south move over China.

Since the Arctic continues to heat up faster than the rest of the world, such situations are likely to become more common. As noted in an earlier post, cyclones can increase humidity, making conditions worse. New research has meanwhile emerged pointing at the increasing risk associated with the combination of cyclones and heatwaves.

Wet Bulb Temperature

The temperature in that area of 35.1°C, at 81% relative humidity and a pressure level of 1004 hPa, translates into a wet bulb temperature of 32.11°C.

Had the temperature remained at 35.1°C, but had relative humidity kept rising to 100%, i.e. rainfall, the wet bulb temperature threshold of 35°C would have been exceeded (35.01°C). Alternatively, had relative humidity remained at 81%, but had the temperature kept rising to 38.2°C, the wet bulb temperature threshold of 35°C would equally have been exceeded (35.07°C), showing how dangerous the situation is. A wet bulb temperature of 35°C can be lethal, as the human body will be unable to lose heat, even when the wind is strong and no matter how much one drinks or sweats.

The situation is dire and calls for comprehensive and effective action, as described in the Climate Plan.


• Another exceptional month for global average temperatures, Copernicus Climate Change Service, ECMWF

• July matched, and maybe broke, the record for the hottest month since analysis began

• NOAA Global Climate Report - July 2016

• July 2019 Global Temperature Update, by James Hansen

• An emerging tropical cyclone–deadly heat compound hazard, by Tom Matthews et al. (2019)

• Most Important Message Ever

• Temperature

• How Much Warming Have Humans Caused?

• It could be unbearably hot in many places within a few years time

• Peaks Matter

• Extinction Alert

• Climate Plan