Record-breaking temperatures are being reported.
Our planet is warming faster than previously thought, an IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) report warned in August. It’s hard to miss the cues now—July 2021 was the hottest month on the planet since records began 142 years ago. The world experienced extreme weather events including heat waves, wildfires, flash floods, and droughts and if we are to believe scientists, this is only going to get worse.
Italy, Greece, Spain, and Turkey faced wildfires, while Germany and Belgium experienced catastrophic flooding. The wildfires in Siberia were the worst ever seen—bigger than the infernos in Europe and North America combined. Floods ravaged China, India, and Japan, while fires blazed in Algeria, Morocco, and Brazil. In California, the Dixie Fire has been burning for more than 60 days, and it’s not the only one!
The alarm bells are ringing loud and clear, and these are some of the places that are breaking all temperature records.
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Death Valley, California
This year, the U.S. had its hottest summer on record. Death Valley in California may have broken all records—it is potentially the hottest place on Earth, hitting 54.4℃ (129.9℉) in 2020 and 2021. If verified, this will beat its previous record of 54℃—also the world’s highest—in 2013. It touched 56.6℃ in 1913, but it’s disputed by experts who consider it erroneous.
It was a scorching summer in California and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration reported that Idaho, Nevada, Utah, and Oregon also had their warmest summers on record.
The heat wave in the Pacific Northwest also scorched Portland this year. It recorded an all-time high of 46.6℃ (116℉) in June. It also saw the most 100℉-plus days in a row the same month. The previous record of 107℉ in 1965 was broken on a Saturday with 108℉; then Sunday reached 112℉; and Monday added another 4℉. The city had to cancel outdoor vaccinations and stores were sold out of air conditioners and fans, AP reported.
Salem also broke its records when the temperature rose to 45℃ this summer.
Lytton, British Columbia
The highest temperatures ever in Canada were recorded in a small village in British Columbia. It reached 49.6℃ (121.3℉) on June 29, after 46.6℃ and 47.9℃ on June 27 and June 28. The previous all-time high was 45℃ in 1937, a record that was broken multiple times in the course of a few days.
The next day, a fire ravaged through the village and razed 90% of it to the ground. Although the cause has not yet been determined, a resident of Lytton has filed a lawsuit against Canadian Pacific and Canadian National railway companies, alleging it was due to their negligence.
This year, the island of Sicily in Italy recorded the highest temperature in Europe, 48.8℃ (119.84℉) in August. If confirmed by the World Meteorological Organization (WMO), it would beat the 1977 record set by Athens of 48℃. 2021 was the warmest summer in Europe on record. It was 0.1℃ warmer than the previous records in 2010 and 2018, but 1℃ higher than the 1991-2020 average.
The coldest city on Earth, Yakutsk in Siberia has witnessed record-breaking heatwaves and forest fires. The Moscow Times said that the city reached 35.1℃ (95.18℉), which is unprecedented. To give you context, Yakutsk faces extremely hard and frigid winters with an average of -40℃ and summer temperature is around 20℃.
The temperatures in Siberia have been 5℃ above average this year from January to June. In 2020, Verkhoyansk in Siberia noted the highest temperature in the Arctic Circle on record at 38℃. All of Russia is experiencing a rise in temperature which is 2.5 times faster than the rest of the world. Moscow recorded 34.7℃ in June this year, matching a 120-year-old record.
The city of Al-Jahra in Kuwait recorded a temperature of 53.5℃ (128.3℉), making it one of the hottest places in the world in 2021. Another city, Nuwaiseeb, witnessed 52℃ in June. Other cities in the Middle East have also suffered blistering heat this summer, including Mecca in Saudi Arabia and Sweihan in UAE.
Seymour Island, Antarctica
Another unfortunate reading came from Antarctica in 2020 and was confirmed by the WMO this July. A record-high of 18.3℃ (64.94℉) was reported on the continent, which is worrisome for the planet. The temperature has risen by almost 3℃ in the peninsula. The melting ice is raising global sea levels and coastal cities are the most vulnerable to its impact.