Hottest July ever for Earth, but 10th for Cranbrook

U.S. weather official called July the planet's warmest month on record, but on Cranbrook's scale it is only the 10th warmest.

  • Aug. 20, 2015 5:00 a.m.
U.S. weather official called July the planet’s warmest month on record

U.S. weather official called July the planet’s warmest month on record

Arne Petryshen

With files from AP

U.S. weather official called July the planet’s warmest month on record, but on Cranbrook’s scale it is only the 10th warmest.

Lisa Caldwell, Environment Canada Meteorologist, said the mean temperature, which is all the all the temperatures averaged out for the month, for July 2015 was 20.2 degrees Celcius.

“That makes it the 10th warmest,” Caldwell said. “It was overly, particularly warm.”

There were three daily records set over the month. There was a hot period at the beginning of the month — July 3 and 4, with record breaking days, where the temperature was 36 degrees for both days. Then there was a hot spell on July 31 where Cranbrook reached 35.9 degrees Celsius, which again was a record.

“There wasn’t an over abundance of rain, but just enough. There was 20.3 mm of rain. That compares to 38.3 of normal, so we’re below normal but not completely dry.”

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration found that July’s average global temperature was 16.6 Celsius, beating the previous mark set in 1998 and 2010 by about one-seventh of a degree. That’s a large margin for weather records, with previous monthly heat records broken by a 20th of a degree or less.

“It just reaffirms what we already know: that the Earth is warming,” said NOAA climate scientist Jake Crouch. “The warming is accelerating and we’re really seeing it this year.”

Caldwell said she couldn’t imagine the amount of numbers they would have had to crunch to get the world figures.

She said across BC it was a warmer than normal July — in Fort Saint John it is was the seventh warmest, while in Kelowna and Victoria it is was the second warmest.

“A lot of the spots did make the top 10 warmest,” she said. “That is significant that you got into the top ten warmest for the minimum temperatures. A lot of our stations do go back a hundred years.”

In BC there is only one person crunching all the numbers. But Caldwell said that doesn’t stop anyone from going on the website and doing their own number crunching.

“All the data is there on the website,” she said. “It’s all in spreadsheet format. So if you like crunching numbers, and your good at spreadsheets, you can just take things away and form macros and ding, out comes all the numbers. It is possible. You can do it yourself. It’s like DIY climatology.”

NOAA records go back to 1880. Separate calculations by NASA and the Japanese weather agency also found July 2015 to be a record.

The first seven months of 2015 were the hottest January-to-July span on record, according to NOAA. The seven-month average temperature of 58.43 degrees (14.7 Celsius) is 1.53 degrees warmer than the 20th-century average and a sixth of a degree warmer than the old record set in 2010.

Given that the temperatures have already been so high already – especially the oceans, which are slow to cool – NOAA climate scientist Jessica Blunden said she is “99 per cent certain” that 2015 will be the hottest on record for the globe. The oceans would have to cool dramatically to prevent it, and they are trending warmer, not cooler, she said.

Crouch, Blunden and other scientists outside of the government said these temperatures are caused by a combination of man-made climate change and a strong, near-record El Nino. An El Nino is a warming of the equatorial Pacific Ocean that alters weather worldwide for about a year.

The oceans drove the globe to record levels. Not only were the world’s oceans the warmest they’ve been in July, but they were 1.35 degrees warmer than the 20th-century average.

The heat hit hard in much of Europe and the Middle East. It was the hottest July on record in Austria, where records go back to 1767. Parts of France had temperatures that were on average 7 degrees above normal and temperatures broke 100 in the Netherlands, which is a rarity. And an Iranian city had a heat index (the “feels like” temperature) of 165 degrees (74 Celsius), which was still not quite record.

Nine of the 10 hottest months on record have happened since 2005, according to NOAA. Twenty-two of the 25 hottest months on record have occurred after the year 2000. The other three were in 1998 and 1997.

This shows that despite what climate change doubters say, there is no pause in warming since 1998, Blunden said.

It doesn’t matter if a month or a year is No. 1 or No. 2 or No. 5 hottest on record, said University of Georgia climate scientist Marshall Shepherd.

“The records are getting attention but I worry the public will grow weary of reports of new records each month,” Shepherd said in an email. “I am more concerned about how the Earth is starting to respond to the changes and the implications for my children.”

For Cranbrook, Caldwell said summer is not over yet.

“There is going to be a brief blitz as a cold front comes through on Friday. This should bring a few showers to the southeastern part of British Columbia,” she said, adding there is also a risk of a thunderstorm. “The amount of rain that might come out of this, of you’re extremely lucky, is about 10 mm of rain. After that if the front goes zooming through, our friend the upper ridge, which has been the main weather driver that gives us the sunny weather, it bounces back.”

Saturday will be a cooler day of only about 21 degrees Celsius, then she said temperatures should rebound over the weekend, with 27 degrees on Sunday and up to 31 on Monday.

“So summer is definitely continuing on into the fourth week of August,” she said.