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Summer temperatures in the northern hemisphere in 2020 have been the highest on record. (Photo: Getty Images)
Summer temperatures in the northern hemisphere in 2020 have been the highest on record. (Photo: Getty Images)

Climate Change Tracker: The world fries in intense summer heat

June, July and August made up the hottest three-month period ever recorded in the northern hemisphere

2020 has been another year of fires. In a trend that keeps repeating every year nowadays, first there were wildfires in the Arctic, followed by fires in the Amazon and now wildfires on the US West Coast. In keeping with this, summer heat records are also tumbling every year. And just on the basis of that particular metric, 2020 is on course to becoming the hottest year on record.

According to a new report from the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), August 2020 was the second hottest August on record. The three-month period of June to August was the hottest meteorological summer ever recorded in the northern hemisphere, eclipsing earlier record summer heat from 2016 and 2019. The report says that even if we consider the fact that it was winter in the southern hemisphere, June-August 2020 was still the third warmest for the planet. The report states that the 10 warmest Augusts have all occurred since 1998, and the five warmest Augusts have occurred since 2015.

Click here to listen to the Mint Climate Change Tracker podcast hosted by Bibek Bhattacharya.

According to data visualized by NOAA, temperatures over large parts of the world ranged from “Much Warmer than Average" to “Record Warmest" between June-August. This included parts of the northern Indian Ocean, with both the Bay of Bengal and the Arabian Sea falling under “Record Warmest". As has been noted in this column earlier, this year, marine heatwaves in the Bay of Bengal and the Arabian Sea have powered super cyclone Amphan and have caused monsoon rainfall anomalies.

Elsewhere, the NOAA report notes that the August Arctic sea ice extent was the third smallest on record this year. In a different report published in Nature Climate Change on 14 September, scientists note that due to the rising temperatures caused by climate change, the Arctic climate has begun to change. In Extremes Becoming Routine In An Emerging New Arctic, researchers have found that climatic conditions are now very different from the 20th century “normal". While ice cover patterns have completely changed, the study argues that unless climate change is checked, air temperatures and precipitation patterns will soon follow suit. It would no longer be the Arctic as we know it.

Follow the series with #MintClimateTracker. Click here to listen to the Mint Climate Change Tracker podcast hosted by Bibek Bhattacharya.

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