By SETH BORENSTEIN and MELINA WALLING (Associated Press)
Earth’s average temperature on Wednesday remained at an unofficial record high set the day before, the latest grim milestone in a week that has seen a series of extremes brought on by climate change.
The average global temperature was 17.18 degrees Celsius (62.9 degrees Fahrenheit), according to the University of Maine’s Climate Reanalyzer, a tool that uses satellite data and computer simulations to gauge the state of the planet. That matched a record set on Tuesday, and came after a previous high of 17.01 degrees Celsius (62.6 degrees Fahrenheit) was set on Monday.
While the numbers aren’t an official government record, “it shows us where we are right now,” said Sarah Kapnick, chief scientist for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. And NOAA said it would consider the numbers for its official record calculations.
Scientists typically use much longer measurements — months, years, decades — to track Earth’s warming, but daily highs indicate that climate change is reaching uncharted territory.
While some countries had colder weather than usual, high temperature records were broken this week in Quebec and Peru.
In North Grenville, Ont., the city turned ice hockey rinks into chill centers as temperatures hit 32 degrees Celsius (90 degrees Fahrenheit) on Wednesday, with humidity feeling like 38 degrees ( 100 degrees Fahrenheit).
“I feel like we’re living in a tropical country right now,” city spokeswoman Jill Sturdy said. “It just kind of hits you. The air is so thick.
Beijing reported nine consecutive days last week that the temperature exceeded 35 degrees Celsius (95 degrees Fahrenheit) and ordered all outdoor work to stop on Wednesday as the temperature reached 41 degrees Celsius (106 degrees Fahrenheit).
As of Wednesday, 38 million Americans were on some sort of heat alert, Kapnick said.
Scientists have warned for months that 2023 could see record heat as human-induced climate change, driven mostly by the burning of fossil fuels like coal, natural gas and oil, warms the atmosphere. They also noted that La Nina, the natural cooling of the ocean that had acted as a counterforce, is giving way to El Nino, the opposite phenomenon marked by the warming of the oceans.
“A record like this is another piece of evidence for the now overwhelmingly supported proposition that global warming is pushing us toward a warmer future,” said Stanford University climatologist Chris Field, who has no not participate in the calculations.
One of the biggest contributors to this week’s records is an unusually mild winter in Antarctica, according to data from the Climate Reanalyzer. Parts of the continent and nearby ocean were 10 to 20 degrees Celsius (18 to 36 degrees Fahrenheit) warmer than the 1979 to 2000 averages.
“Temperatures have been unusual over the ocean and particularly around Antarctica this week as wind fronts over the Southern Ocean are strong, pushing warm air further south,” said Raghu Murtugudde, professor of atmospheric, ocean and Earth system sciences at the University of Maryland. and visiting professor at the Indian Institute of Technology, Bombay.
Chari Vijayaraghavan, a polar explorer and educator who has visited the Arctic and Antarctica regularly over the past decade, says global warming is evident at both poles and is threatening the region’s wildlife as well as melting ice that raises sea level.
“Global warming could lead to increased risks of diseases such as the spread of avian flu in Antarctica, which will have devastating consequences for penguins and other animals in the region,” Vijayaraghavan said.
University of Maine climatologist Sean Birkel, creator of the Climate Reanalyzer, said the daily numbers aren’t official but are a useful snapshot of what’s happening in a warming world.
Even though the dataset used for the unofficial record only dates back to 1979, Kapnick said that given other data, the world is likely experiencing the hottest days in “several hundred years that we have known”.
More frequent and intense heat waves have disrupted life around the world and caused deadly temperatures.
Dr Hans Henri P. Kluge, regional director for Europe at the World Health Organization, said climate change was attacking the continent “in a big way”, which had the potential to roll back 50 years of progress in public health.
Large parts of India and Pakistan faced a multi-day heat wave in June that killed more than 100 people in the two countries. Temperatures dropped last week with the onset of monsoon rains.
Associated Press reporter Sibi Arasu in Bengaluru, India, contributed to this report.
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