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Earth Reaches Unprecedented Heat Records for the Third Time This Week: An In-Depth Look

by Ryan Lee
10 comments
Climate Change Crisis

This Thursday marked an unusual and unprecedented instance when Earth’s average temperature reached a new, albeit unofficial, record high. It was the third such record set in a week, making it the warmest week ever recorded. Some experts suggest it could be the hottest in 120,000 years.

With an average of 63 degrees Fahrenheit (17.23 degrees Celsius), the temperatures may not seem extraordinary at first glance since it encapsulates averages from all around the globe. However, scientists are quick to point out that these frequent record-setting instances, whether officially recognized or not, are indicative of a far more serious problem. The root cause of these increases is more critical than the specific numbers involved.

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Climate scientist Friederike Otto from the Imperial College of London emphasizes that the implications of these records are more important than their official recognition. “The key point is that these enormous and perilous numbers would not have occurred without climate change,” she explained.

The global average temperature on Thursday outstripped the 62.9-degree mark (17.18 degrees Celsius) achieved on Tuesday and matched on Wednesday, according to the University of Maine’s Climate Reanalyzer. Before this week, no day had crossed the 17-degree Celsius mark (62.6 degrees Fahrenheit) in the 44 years of this tool’s records.

Johan Rockstrom, the director of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research in Germany, declared the 63-degree mark as a remarkable anomaly that exceeds the average of the last 12,000 years by nearly 6 degrees. He warned that it is highly likely to lead to more severe extreme weather events, including floods, droughts, heatwaves, and storms.

There is growing consensus among scientists that the recent days and weeks could represent the warmest global temperatures in 120,000 years. Long-term proxy measurements such as tree rings, however, aren’t precise, noted Zeke Hausfather, a climate scientist at tech company Stripe and Berkeley Earth temperature monitoring group.

This week’s scorching heat has affected regions ranging from dangerously hot places like Jingxing, China, which experienced almost 110 degrees Fahrenheit (43.3 degrees Celsius), to unusually warm areas like Antarctica, where temperatures were up to 8 degrees Fahrenheit (4.5 degrees Celsius) above the normal this week.

With average global temperatures rising, Europe is also bracing for a heatwave. Germany’s weather agency, DWD, has predicted highs of 37 degrees C (99 degrees F) on Sunday, prompting a warning from the Health Ministry for vulnerable populations.

The University of Maine’s measurements are averages, indicating that while some places are exceptionally warmer than usual, others might be cooler. On average, it’s about 1.8 degrees Fahrenheit (1 degree Celsius) warmer than the 1979-2000 average, which in turn was warmer than the averages of the 19th and 20th centuries. It’s worth noting that the world’s oceans, which cover 70% of the planet, have been experiencing record heat for months.

The current surge in heat is primarily driven by long-term warming due to greenhouse gas emissions from fossil fuel combustion and a natural El Nino warming event that alters global weather patterns and amplifies existing warming.

Scientists caution that daily fluctuations in global data are less understood and less significant than trends over months, years, and especially decades. In the words of Gabriel Vecchi, a climate scientist at Princeton University, “the fact that we haven’t had a year colder than the 20th century average since 1976 is much more relevant.”

Regardless of how official the records are, the crucial message that the Earth is warming due to human activities needs to be communicated, stated Max Boykoff, a University of Colorado environmental studies professor. Real-world experiences of extreme heat and wildfires could be powerful tools in public climate change communication, added Ed Maibach, a climate communications professor at George Mason University.

This report has contributions from Frank Jordans in Berlin.

For more on climate and environment, follow our coverage at https://bigbignews.net/climate-and-environment and Seth Borenstein on Twitter at @borenbears.

Several private foundations support Big Big News’s climate and environmental coverage. For more information about AP’s climate initiative, click here. The AP is solely responsible for all content.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about Climate Change Crisis

How many times did Earth set a new heat record in one week?

In one week, Earth set an unofficial heat record three times, making it the hottest week ever recorded.

What is the cause of these record-breaking temperatures?

The surge in global temperatures is primarily driven by long-term warming due to greenhouse gas emissions from fossil fuel combustion and a natural El Nino event that changes global weather patterns and enhances existing warming.

What are the potential consequences of these increasing temperatures?

Increasing global temperatures may lead to more severe extreme weather events, such as floods, droughts, heatwaves, and storms, and significantly impact life on Earth.

Have we experienced such temperatures before?

According to some scientists, the recent days and weeks could represent the warmest global temperatures in 120,000 years.

How do scientists monitor and measure global temperatures?

Scientists use a variety of tools to measure global temperatures, including satellite data, computer simulations, and proxy measurements like tree rings. However, there are variations and limitations in these methods.

How is the public responding to these record-breaking temperatures?

Public responses vary, but experts emphasize the importance of understanding that these temperature increases are due to human-induced climate change. Real-world experiences of extreme heat and wildfires can be powerful tools in public climate change communication.

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10 comments

Susan_T July 8, 2023 - 7:37 am

This just makes me sad. Our planet is crying for help. We need to do better…

Reply
BethanyS July 8, 2023 - 10:41 am

El Nino again? why does no one talk about it on the news? they only care when it’s too late…

Reply
JuliaM July 8, 2023 - 12:46 pm

Climate change is real people, its time we start taking it seriously!

Reply
SammyJ July 8, 2023 - 3:59 pm

wow, this is terrifying! Is there anything we can do to reverse this??

Reply
GlobalWanderer July 8, 2023 - 7:17 pm

just travelled to europe and the heat was intense. Never thought I’d need air conditioning in germany!

Reply
PatrickM July 8, 2023 - 8:57 pm

Whats with the heat?! it’s almost unbearable in my city. Climate change is not a joke, people…

Reply
Mike_H July 8, 2023 - 9:37 pm

hard to believe this is our reality now. Can’t imagine what it’ll be like for my grandkids… We must act and change our habits!

Reply
Dave_78 July 8, 2023 - 9:50 pm

I remember when summers used to be so much cooler, those days are long gone now it seems…

Reply
SciGeek July 9, 2023 - 1:04 am

Interesting, yet scary. As a scientist, this kind of data can’t be ignored. We need to intensify research and action on climate change.

Reply
TreeHugger21 July 9, 2023 - 1:36 am

120,000 years?! Thats insane. we need to act NOW, not tomorrow. reduce, reuse, recycle!!!

Reply

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