July may surpass hottest month in recorded history says World Meteorological Organization

A lake of meltwater on the Greenland ice sheet near the Sermeq Avangnardleq glacier on August 04, 2019 near Ilulissat, Greenland. The Sahara heat wave that recently sent temperatures to record levels in parts of Europe has also reached Greenland. Climate change is having a profound effect in Greenland, where over the last several decades summers have become longer and the rate that glaciers and the Greenland ice cap are retreating has accelerated. (Sean Gallup/Getty Images)
July at least equalled, and may even have surpassed, being the hottest month in recorded history, says the World Meteorological Organization (WMO).

July 2019 will be around 1.2°C warmer than the pre-industrial era, said the WMO in a news release, citing the most recent data from the World Meteorological Organization and Copernicus Climate Change Programme, part of the European Union’s Earth Observation Programme. 

“All of this means that we are on track for the period from 2015 to 2019 to be the five hottest years on record,” said UN Secretary-General António Guterres, at a news conference on Thursday.

“This year alone, we have seen temperature records shattered from New Delhi to Anchorage, from Paris to Santiago, from Adelaide and to the Arctic Circle. If we do not take action on climate change now, these extreme weather events are just the tip of the iceberg. And, indeed, the iceberg is also rapidly melting.”

June 2019 was also the hottest June on record, the organization said.

Effects felt worldwide

The effects of the heatwave have been felt across the Arctic from Greenland to wildfire zones in Alaska and Russia.

Russian emergency ministry officers load equipment into a helicopter as they prepare for departure to battle forest fires at an airfield in the settlement of Boguchany in Russia’s Krasnoyarsk Krai on August 4, 2019. (Ekaterina Anisimova//AFP/Getty Images)

“July has re-written climate history, with dozens of new temperature records at local, national and global level,” said Petteri Taalas, secretary-general of the WMO in a news release.

“The extraordinary heat was accompanied by dramatic ice melt in Greenland, in the Arctic and on European glaciers. Unprecedented wildfires raged in the Arctic for the second consecutive month, devastating once pristine forests which used to absorb carbon dioxide and instead turning them into fiery sources of greenhouse gases. This is not science fiction. It is the reality of climate change. It is happening now and it will worsen in the future without urgent climate action.

Smoke rises from a wildfire in east Anchorage, Alaska on July 2, 2019. Smoke from the fire raised a plume over Alaska’s largest city that could be seen for miles. (Jason Jordet/Alaska Division of Forestry/AP)

“WMO expects that 2019 will be in the five top warmest years on record, and that 2015-2019 will be the warmest of any equivalent five-year period on record. Time is running out to reign in dangerous temperature increases with multiple impacts on our planet.”

In Canada, Canadian Forces Station Alert hit a record of  21 degrees Celsius on July 14, making headlines across the country for being hotter than even the city of Victoria in southern Canada.   

Write to Eilís Quinn at eilis.quinn(at)cbc.ca

Related stories from around the North:

Canada: 2019 Arctic wildfire season ‘unprecedented’ say experts, Eye on the Actic

Finland: Reindeer struggling to stay cool as unusual heat hits northern Finland, Yle News

Greenland: Tall ice cliffs are slumping and may trigger rapid sea-level rise, study finds, CBC News

Iceland: Iceland glacier lost to climate change to get memorial ceremony this month, Eye on the Arctic

Norway: Arctic summer 2019: record heat, dramatic ice loss and raging wildfires, The Independent Barents Observer

Russia: Nearly 3,000 people, 50 aircraft mobilized to fight wildfires in Russia, Eye on the Arctic

United States: Wildfire smoke brings more respiratory complaints in Anchorage, Alaska, Alaska Public Media

Eilís Quinn, Eye on the Arctic

Eilís Quinn is an award-winning journalist and manages Radio Canada International’s Eye on the Arctic news cooperation project. Eilís has reported from the Arctic regions of all eight circumpolar countries and has produced numerous documentary and multimedia series about climate change and the issues facing Indigenous peoples in the North.

Her investigative report "Death in the Arctic: A community grieves, a father fights for change," about the murder of Robert Adams, a 19-year-old Inuk man from Arctic Quebec, received the silver medal for “Best Investigative Article or Series” at the 2019 Canadian Online Publishing Awards. The project also received an honourable mention for excellence in reporting on trauma at the 2019 Dart Awards in New York City.

Her report “The Arctic Railway: Building a future or destroying a culture?” on the impact a multi-billion euro infrastructure project would have on Indigenous communities in Arctic Europe was a finalist at the 2019 Canadian Association of Journalists award in the online investigative category.

Her multimedia project on the health challenges in the Canadian Arctic, "Bridging the Divide," was a finalist at the 2012 Webby Awards.

Her work on climate change in the Arctic has also been featured on the TV science program Découverte, as well as Le Téléjournal, the French-Language CBC’s flagship news cast.

Eilís has worked for media organizations in Canada and the United States and as a TV host for the Discovery/BBC Worldwide series "Best in China."

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