World lived second hottest July ever recorded, says WMO

Lake Le Broc in Nice, France on 29 July, 2022, dried up by an unprecedented drought. (Credit: Keystone/MAXPPP/Dylan Meiffret)

Last month was among the top three warmest July months on record, according to the World Meteorological Organization (WMO).

The world has just seen its second warmest July on record, as fierce heatwaves, droughts and wildfires struck parts of Europe, the United States and China, the WMO said on Tuesday.

Scorching temperatures of over 40ºC shattered records across regions and some parts of Europe brace for another round in the coming weeks.

Why it matters. As climate change accelerates, scientists say floods, heatwaves and other extreme weather events are becoming worse and more common. Extreme hot weather can be deadly, leading to heat strokes and dehydration but also increasing risk of cardiovascular and respiratory disorders. Preliminary data has shown a surge in deaths during the month of July in Europe, Politico reported.

What happened.

  • July was 0.4ºC above levels seen between 1990 and 2020, making it the hottest on record after July 2019 and ahead of July 2016. While the northern hemisphere saw above average temperatures, regions in the south, including the Horn of Africa, southern India, and most of Australia had below average temperatures.

  • Precipitation levels hit new lows in July, with regions like Southern France struck by its worst drought on record. The dry conditions caused wildfires to spread across western Europe and crop yields to drop, hitting local economies. North America, parts of South America, Central Asia and Australia also had an unusually dry month while parts of Russia, China, India and Africa were wetter than average.

  • Antarctic sea ice levels shattered previous records, according to Europe’s Copernicus Climate Change Service, dropping to seven per cent below average, while in the Arctic, levels were four per cent lower than average.

No relief for Europe. Temperature and rainfall trends in certain parts of Europe are set to carry well over into August, exacerbating drought conditions and the risk of wildfires, according to the WMO’s European climate monitoring centre.