The temperature was 0.90°C* above the 20th century average, which factors in a strong warming trend from 1970 through the end of the century. Last year’s record warmth is part of a long-term trend. Did you know that all the world’s 10 warmest years have occurred since 1998?
Last year also holds the title as the 39th consecutive year with above-average global temperatures. Said differently, nobody under age 40 has lived in a year with global average temperatures at or below the global 20th century average. Which means Baby Boomers really are the cooler generation.
This is nothing to laugh about. The trend towards warmer temperatures is happening across many regions of the world, with the Middle East and North Africa among the most vulnerable areas. Last July, a weather phenomenon called a “heat dome” – a high pressure ridge that passed over the region – created mind-boggling combinations of heat and humidity, even for cities familiar with furnace-like summers.
Doha, Qatar registered temperatures of 48.5 °C (nearly 120 °F), six degrees higher than normal. The southeastern Iraqi city of Samawah reported the same, paired with a dew point of 29.5 °C (85.1°F) , yielding a feels-like temperature of 71°C (159 °F) and prompting the government to declare a mandatory four-day holiday. The feels-like temperature reached 53°C (128 °F) in Bahrain.
An increase in atmospheric greenhouse gases, resulting primarily from the burning of coal, oil and gas, is driving climate change and increasing global temperatures. Unless we take action, we can expect even hotter conditions ahead as the amount of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere continues to increase.
The World Meteorological Organization says the official record-high temperature for Asia, of which the Middle East is a part, is 129 degrees (54 degrees Celsius) set at Tivat Tsvi, Israel, on June 21, 1942. That figure is sometimes refuted as unreliable, but it should bring the issue closer to home.
The Paris Conference of Parties has officially ended in December with 195 nations signing up to a partially legally binding program of measures for curbing climate change. That global pact asks countries to limit their greenhouse gas emissions and commit to enacting changes that will keep average global temperatures from rising another 2°C (3.6 °F) between now and the year 2100.
What are some of the things you are doing to keep the planet cool? Drop us a comment to share your experiences, experiments and tips. We all have to act, now, because being too hot just isn’t cool.
The Climate Council is an independent, crowd-funded organisation providing quality information on climate change to the Australian public. Download the full report (link here).
Image from the Climate Council of Australia, Ltd.