The extreme temperatures came as deadly heat
waves swept across Europe, killing up to 2,000
people in Portugal and Spain, and exacerbated
drought-fueled wildfires in the western United
Last month’s scorching temperatures appear to
fall just between the hottest July ever recorded in
2019 and the second hottest in 2016. That technically
puts it in second place. But statistically speaking,
this July falls so close to both that the European
Union’s Copernicus Climate Change Service simply
ranks it among the top three.
Copernicus also found that southwestern Europe —
which suffered record-breaking heat over the last
few weeks — saw its hottest July of all time.
The report comes amid a summer of record-shattering
temperatures, both for Europe and for other parts
of the Northern Hemisphere. Numerous studies show
that climate change is causing heat waves to become
more frequent, more intense and longer lasting
across much of the world.
Extreme heat toppled monthly records in July across
Portugal, Spain, France and other countries on the
European continent, climbing well over 100 degrees
Fahrenheit in many places. Wildfires ripped across
the landscape, forcing thousands of people to
Temperatures in the United Kingdom rose above 104
degrees Fahrenheit for the first time ever observed,
shattering the country’s previous all-time heat record
of 101.7 degrees multiple times in a single day. Just
days later, a scientific study concluded that climate
change made the heat wave at least 10 times more
likely to occur.
Extreme heat also struck parts of China last month,
with “red alert” heat warnings going into effect
across much of the Yangtze River Basin. In Shanghai,
the country’s most populous city, temperature rose
to nearly 106 degrees Fahrenheit, matching its all-time
temperature record. In other cities, temperatures rose
as high as 111 degrees.
And record-breaking heat has plagued much of the
United States over the last month, as well.
Heat advisories went into effect for tens of millions
of people across the country during a major heat
wave toward the end of July, including the southern
Great Plains and Midwest, the mid-South and up the
East Coast into New England. Daily temperature
records toppled across the Northeast, where the
heat broke 100 degrees in some places.
Sizzling heat struck the Pacific Northwest
shortly afterward. Temperatures in some places,
like typically mild Portland, Ore., rose above 100
Temperatures didn’t reach quite the extremes that
they hit during last year’s record-shattering Pacific
Northwest heat wave, which broke 108 degrees in
Seattle, 116 degrees in Portland and an eye-watering
121 degrees in the village of Lytton, British Columbia.
But this year’s heat wave lasted longer, lingering for
more than a week in some places.
According to NOAA, last month was the third-hottest
July on record for the contiguous United States.
The global rankings released yesterday from
Copernicus differ slightly from those reported by
other science agencies. NOAA, for instance, has
ranked July 2021 as the hottest on record and July
2016, 2019 and 2020 as tied for second place.
Different agencies use slightly different methods
to analyze global temperature data, meaning the
exact results sometimes vary slightly.
But they’re statistically comparable, typically falling
within a few fractions of a degree of one another.
Last month’s extremes were just the latest in an
already record-breaking spring and summer for
the Northern Hemisphere.
Japan experienced one of its worst heat waves of
all time in June, with temperatures exceeding 104
degrees Fahrenheit in some places. Tokyo hit 95
degrees for more than a week, its longest streak
since the city began keeping records in the 19th
Wave after wave of extreme heat has swept
through Europe since late spring this year, offering
only brief reprieves in between.
And both India and Pakistan suffered blistering heat
for weeks on end in April during a heat wave that
scientists have found was at least 30 times more likely
to occur because of climate change.
Meanwhile, August is already shaping up to be a mscorching month in many
places, as well.
Iraq has been broiling for days under temperatures mexceeding 120 degrees
in some places, including
the capital city of Baghdad. The heat has strained
the electric grid, and repeated power cuts have left
many without air conditioning.
The United Kingdom and parts of central Europe,
including France and Germany, are currently bracing
for yet another heat wave to strike this week.
And much of the United States has again sweltered
under high heat in the last week, including the Great
Plains and the Northeast.