Last month was the planet’s warmest June since 1850, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said in its monthly climate update on Thursday. The agency also predicts unusually warm temperatures will occur in most of the United States, almost everywhere except the northern Great Plains, during August.
The first two weeks of July were also likely Earth’s hottest on record for any time of the year, according to the European Union’s Copernicus Climate Change Service.
Why It Matters: Many places suffered from stifling heat and humidity.
Many daily temperature records were set in June across the Southern United States, especially in Texas and Louisiana. Temperatures in Laredo, Texas, reached 100 degrees for over 20 days in june Austin, El Paso and San Antonio reached triple digits in more than 10 days each. The heat index, which also accounts for humidity, was well over 100 much of the time in all these cities.
Extreme heat can be dangerous to anyone’s body, but older people and outdoor workers are at particular risk. Summer heat waves in Europe last year may have killed 61,000 people across the continent, according to a recent study.
This year’s heat and humidity have wreaked havoc in northern Mexico, where more than 100 people have died from heat-related causes, according to reports from the federal health ministry.
background: A heat dome parked over northern Mexico, worsened by climate change.
Heat domes are weather phenomena that form naturally from time to time. Some meteorologists and climate scientists believe that a warming Arctic is causing the jet stream to slow down, meaning weather systems stay in one place longer. John Nielsen-Gammon, director of the Southern Regional Climate Center, said it’s too early to know if that happened specifically with the June heat dome.
Other scientists have suggested that last month’s heat wave has become five times more likely and 5 degrees Fahrenheit warmer than it would have been without climate change.
Although heat waves occur naturally, June’s large increases in temperatures around the world were highly unlikely without climate change, Dr Nielsen-Gammon said.
What Next: More abnormal warmth across most of the US.
There is currently another heat wave over a huge area of the country, and it is more diffuse.
More than a quarter of the US population experienced dangerous heat on Thursday, according to a New York Times analysis of daily weather and population data. Phoenix has baked at over 110 degrees Fahrenheit for over 19 days in a row.
The Atlantic Ocean and parts of the Pacific are both abnormally warm now due to the natural El Niño climate pattern in the Pacific and also due to human-caused climate change. About 40 percent of the planet is experiencing “sea heat,” NOAA scientists previously said last week, warning that coral reefs are at risk of bleaching and dying.
Sea surface temperatures in the Atlantic, especially off the coast of Africa, have been “well above normal” for the past month, said Matt Rosencrans, a meteorologist at NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center. “That’s a pretty interesting dynamic to have both the Pacific and Atlantic Ocean basins so anomalously warm at the same time.”