‘Warning signal’: Steaming North Atlantic, El Nino to turn up world heat

Photo: Anadolu Agency
LONDON. KAZINFORM - June was the planet’s warmest month on record and the beginning of July was the hottest week, Anadolu reports.

Now, with an unprecedented marine heat wave in the North Atlantic Ocean and a strong El Nino effect, many parts of the world are at «very high risk» of record temperatures this year, according to the World Meteorological Organization (WMO).

The global average temperature steamed between July 3-7, shattering heat records in a row as it reached 17.24 degrees Celsius (63.03 degrees Fahrenheit).

The previous record was 16.94C (62.49F) in August 2016 – a strong El Nino year.

«This is a warning signal for us,» Wilfran Moufouma-Okia, head of the WMO’s Regional Climate Prediction Services Division, told Anadolu in a video interview.

«The one thing we need to remember is that usually the warmest month in the year is July. So, this June was exceptionally warm.»

In an email to Anadolu, the EU’s Copernicus Climate Change Service said the main reason for the recent mercury spikes around the world is record high sea surface temperatures.

According to the EU agency, sea surface temperatures this May were higher than any previous May on record, continuing into June with higher anomalies.

For June, the average sea surface temperatures across the North Atlantic were the warmest on record.

«This is about 0.5C higher than the previous warmest June, recorded in 2010. The anomalous warmth is particularly striking in the northeastern Atlantic Ocean, at 1.36C above average for the month as a whole,» Copernicus said in a previous statement.

‘Unprecedented’ warming

Moufouma-Okia said the heat in the Atlantic is «unprecedented,» because it is not usually seen there in a period of El Nino.

With the Atlantic warming, we can expect «the temperature to be added up,» he added.

For now, «we do not know whether it is caused by global warming or not,» he said.

«What we tend to do is that after a few months, some scientists do what they call ‘attribution’ and try to investigate the reasons,» the WMO official said.

«Scientists will accumulate all the evidence and come up with a kind of reasoning. This requires some time.»

Copernicus also said the causes for the North Atlantic heat need to be researched, but atmospheric circulation, air pollution and climate change trends are several factors to take into consideration.

According to Moufouma-Okia, the warming of the North Atlantic may trigger tropical cyclones in the southern part of the Atlantic, which is «normally not the case during El Nino.»

«During El Nino, we see less tropical cyclones,» he explained.

Moufouma-Okia said it still needs to be determined whether the current record high temperatures globally are related to El Nino, because the real impact of the weather pattern mostly starts from December.

This means that the world is likely to have a warmer end of the year, he added.

WMO forecasts the next five years are likely to be warmer and one of them will be the hottest, exceeding the 1.5C warming threshold.

With the El Nino effect and other weather anomalies, there is a very high risk of soaring temperatures in parts of Africa, South America and Pacific, said Moufouma-Okia.

«Our forecasts show other regions with very high probability of warming are Europe, the US, and parts of Asia and the Arabian Peninsula. The outlook is from July to September,» he added.

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