The planetary heat bender we’re on just hit a new milestone. Fueled by relentless heat in Europe to end the month, this June was the hottest June ever recorded, according to data analyzed by Europe’s space agency.
The planet was more than 1 degrees Celsius (1.8 degrees Fahrenheit) warmer than the pre-industrial average and Europe was an astounding 3 degrees Celsius (5.4 degrees Fahrenheit) warmer. The analysis comes courtesy of the European Union’s Copernicus Program, one of a number of agencies that maintain a record of the Earth’s worsening fever. Other groups compute the global average temperature as well using slightly different algorithms and analysis methods. Climate data nerds will now keep an eye on what NASA and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration datasets reveal and if all parties agree that this June does indeed set a milestone globally.
Regardless, the spike is notable for a number of reasons. One is that June 2019 (tentatively) took the hottest June title from June 2016 a year. While it was a narrow upset of just 0.1 degrees Celsius, 2016 had a super El Niño helping to boost the global average temperature. This year, there’s also an El Niño but it’s weak and decaying into obscurity.
The new record also reveals that while a planet that’s a few degrees hotter might not sound dramatically different, it is. The European heat wave that broke records across the continent to the end the month is a prime example of how a “little” global warming can have huge impacts. There, temperatures were up to 9 degrees Celsius (16.2 degrees Fahrenheit) warmer than normal for the last week of the month. A snap analysis of the role climate change played in driving the heat wave found that climate change made the event at least five times more likely. Compared to heat waves of similar magnitude a century ago, last week’s was 4 degrees Celsius (7.2 degrees Fahrenheit) hotter, per the analysis.
The heat was also set to full blast in parts of the Arctic where sea ice is receding at an alarming clip. A preliminary analysis of data kept by the National Snow and Ice Data Center shows that sea ice hit its second lowest extent for June on record. And the heat hasn’t stopped in the northern reaches of the globe either. In fact, it’s intensifying.
Alaska is on fire and a ridge of high pressure is expected to build across the state this week. That means sunny, hot conditions will crank into overdrive and all-time temperature records that haven’t already been broken could fall. In other words, the planet is going to keep having a normal one.