MIAMI/KUWAIT: Soaring temperatures worldwide made July the Earth’s hottest month in modern times, setting a new high mark for global heat in 137 years of record-keeping, US government scientists said yesterday, with Kuwait recording the highest maximum temperature of 54 degrees Celsius. The report from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration came just two days after the US space agency NASA released its climate data, which also found July was a record-breaking month. “July is typically the hottest month for the globe, and last month didn’t disappoint,” said a summary of the monthly report by NOAA. “July 2016 was 1.57 degrees Fahrenheit above the 20th-century average, breaking last year’s record for the warmest July on record by 0.11 degrees.”
Scientists say the heating trend is being driven by fossil-fuel burning, and is made worse by the ocean warming phenomenon known as El Nino, which came to an end last month. July’s global average of temperatures taken over land and ocean surfaces were the “highest for any month in the NOAA global temperature dataset record, which dates back to 1880”. July also marks the 15th consecutive month of breaking monthly temperature records, “the longest such streak in the 137-year record”, NOAA said.
In Kuwait, temperatures hit 48 degrees Celsius yesterday. According to the Meteorological Department at the Directorate General of Civil Aviation, Kuwait witnessed light to moderate north westerly winds at speeds between 15 to 40 km per hour. The government has moved to assure residents the state’s electricity grid can cope with the surge in usage as a result of the summer’s heat wave, local newspaper Al Qabas reported on Tuesday. The country’s peak electricity load reached 13,390 megawatts (MW) this month, its highest level ever, the ministry of electricity and water said in the report. The new figure exceeds the previous peak electricity load record of 13, 310 MW, reached in July 17 this year.
The ministry attributed the surge in consumption to the intense heat which has afflicted the country this summer, with temperatures exceeding 50 degrees Celsius. Heavy use of air-conditioning devices and networks has puts a major strain on the overall power consumption. However, the ministry said the network was able to cope with the rising power demand and can accommodate a power load as high as 15,000 MW. The UN’s World Meteorological Organization has announced that it will set up a committee to examine whether a 54 degrees Celsius reported in Kuwait in July 21 is the new highest temperature ever recorded in Asia.
The NOAA report found above-average warmth across most of the Earth, with new records observed in parts of Indonesia, southern Asia, and New Zealand. Scorching temperatures were seen in part of the Gulf region, with several locations across Kuwait experiencing temperatures higher than 113 F during July. “The highest maximum temperature during July 2016 was recorded in Mitribah, Kuwait,” it said.
In Bahrain, the average temperature of 96.8 F for the month was the nation’s highest July temperature since national records began in 1902. New Zealand, Spain and Hong Kong were also unusually warm. Places that saw near-average or cooler-than-normal temperatures last month included the northwestern United States, eastern Canada, southern South America, southwestern Australia, north central Russia, Kazakhstan, and India. Ocean temperatures were also at a record high, amid concerns that warming waters are contributing to the spread of coral bleaching worldwide. NOAA said the 13 highest monthly global ocean temperature departures have all occurred in the past 13 months.
Temperatures were record high even though El Nino has ended, and neither the warming trend of El Nino or the cooler La Nina prevailed across the tropical Pacific Ocean during July 2016. La Nina is “slightly favored to develop during August-October 2016, with about 55-60 percent chance of La Nina during the northern hemisphere fall and winter 2016/17,” NOAA said. But even a break in El Nino, which contributed to the surging global temperatures this year, is not likely to sway 2016 from its track toward becoming the hottest year in the contemporary era for global heat. NOAA said the first seven months of the year are the “warmest such period on record at 1.85 F (1.03 C) above the 20th century average.” That is one-third of a degree F (0.19 C) above the previous record set in 2015. – Agencies