Stockholm (NordSIP) – “We have always lived through hot summers. But this is not the summer of our youth. This is not your grandfather’s summer,” said UN Secretary-General António Guterres, according to a news report from the World Meteorological Organization. “All of this means that we are on track for the period from 2015 to 2019 to be the five hottest years on record,” the secretary-general added.
According to data from the Climate Change Service, a joint project of the European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts (ECMWF) and the EU’s Copernicus, July 2019 temperatures were 0.56 °C warmer than the 1981-2010 average for the same month. It was the warmest July on record, surpassing 2016 by 0.04°C. Concerningly, the July heat followed a record-breaking June.
Most unusual of all, July 2019 was relatively warmest at higher latitudes, i.e., closest to the Arctic Circle. As the report notes, “temperatures were the most above the 1981-2010 average over Alaska, Baffin Island and Greenland, parts of Siberia, the central Asian Republics and Iran, as well as large parts of Antarctica.” However, in the same month in 2018, the unusually high temperatures were concentrated in Norway, Sweden and Finland, as well as in parts of France, Germany, the United Kingdom and the Benelux countries. The heat was concentrated even further South in 2017.
The effect of these extreme weather events was predictable. According to Global Forest Watch Fires (GFWF), Greenland has had 105 fire alerts this year, of which 66 took place in July alone. In Russia, the largest country on earth by surface area, July alone saw 127,632 fire alerts, more than double the figure for the previous six months, the highest relative July increase for the country on GFWF’s record. Asides from the large number of fires Russia has been fighting their size has also been unusually large. Indeed, it has been fighting one of the largest natural fires in the country’s recorded history in the Taiga forest, in the Krasnoyarsk region of Siberia. “Despite statements by Russian authorities, the intensity of forest fires in Siberia is not decreasing,” Greenpeace International noted at the beginning of August. “The 4.3 million hectare fire — an area larger than Denmark — is contributing significantly to climate change. Since the beginning of the year, a total of 13.1 million hectares has burned.” With almost 22,000 fire alerts, the USA state of Alaska also experienced the one of the highest monthly increase in fires since 2001, second only to July 2004, 24,000 fires.
“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,” Mr Guterres concluded.
Photo from Pixabay