Earth just experienced the hottest June in at least 140 years

Keeping cool in Massachusetts.
Keeping cool in Massachusetts.
Image: Reuters/Brian Snyder
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It’s hot out there, as you may have noticed. Global temperatures are rising to scorching new heights as heatwaves prompt mayors in American cities to issue extreme weather advisories. People are dying. At least six recent deaths in the US are being blamed on the heat, including that of former Mitch Petrus a 32-year-old former National Football League lineman, who was felled by heat stroke in Arkansas on July 19.

The current heat comes as no surprise. Last month was the hottest June on Earth in at least the last 140 years, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). Rising temperatures are becoming the new normal. “Mother Earth worked up a major sweat last month,” NOAA announced on its website on July 18. “Scorching temperatures made June 2019 the hottest June on record for the globe. And for the second month in a row, warmth brought Antarctic sea-ice coverage to a new low.”

Average Antarctic sea-ice coverage was 8.5% below the 1981-2010 average. And sea ice coverage was 10.5% below the overall average, which is based on records beginning in 1979.

The average global temperature in June was 0.95°C (1.71°F) above the 20th-century global average of  15.5°C (59.9°F) for the month. Meanwhile, the period from January through June produced a global temperature 0.95°C above the 20th-century average of 13.5°C. This year is currently in a tie with 2017 as the second-hottest year, to date, on record. South America, parts of the southern Africa, Madagascar, New Zealand, Alaska, western Canada, Mexico, eastern Asia, the Atlantic and Indian oceans, and the Bering Sea all experienced the hottest first half of the year on record, NOAA reports.

Global temperatures keep rising, making hotter-than-average seem all too usual. Nine of the 10 hottest Junes recorded have occurred since 2010. Last month’s weather broke records but it was consistent in one sense. It was the 43rd consecutive June and 414th consecutive month with above-average global temperatures.

Scientists and policymakers are feeling the heat. The worldwide climate crisis is becoming ever more difficult to ignore. As Quartz’s Annabelle Timsit noted in her coverage of the European heatwave in June, “extreme weather events are becoming more common globally, and have been shown by research groups like the World Weather Attribution Project to be linked to climate change.” The international consortium of academic and meteorological institutes showed that a 2018 heatwave in northern Europe, which prompted wildfires, and giant algae blooms, was significantly more likely to have happened because of human activities.