July Was Hottest Month
On Record - 90's
Warmest Decade In 600 Years
From Discovery News Briefs
The White House is releasing figures Monday that confirm July was the hottest month the planet has seen since reliable record-keeping began more than a century ago: something many in the sun-baked Southwest may already suspect, the Washington Post reports.
The average global temperature last month was 61.7 degrees Fahrenheit, about 1.26 degrees above normal for July and nearly half a degree higher than the previous record, set in July 1997, according to a newly completed analysis by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
July is now the seventh consecutive month in which global temperatures broke the previous record for the period -- a trend the White House has cited repeatedly in pressing for action to curb global warming, according to Monday's Post.
"There's already an overwhelming scientific consensus that human activity is influencing the climate," says an administration source, asked to comment on the new temperature data. "Month after month, we're accumulating even more evidence."
The new global statistics are based on land and ocean temperature data collected at monitoring stations around the planet.
The land-based measurements show a sharp increase in warming in the last 15 years, with many of the hottest years on record occurring in the 1990s. Indeed, when measured against temperature records gleaned from tree rings and glaciers, the decade's weather appears even more remarkable, scientists say.
"We know that the 1990s are the warmest decade in 600 years," says Thomas Karl of NOAA's National Climactic Data Center in Asheville, N.C. "And it is quite likely that 1998 will be the warmest year in the last 600 years."
Vice President Gore is scheduled to announce the new numbers today.
Temperatures in central Texas soared past 100 degrees again yesterday in a brief reprise of the summer hot spell that has killed at least 124 people.
Other records have shown a slight increase in global temperatures -- about 1 degree Fahrenheit -- over the past century, a rise many scientists say may have been partly caused by a build-up of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases from fossil fuel combustion.
Other scientists remain skeptical, attributing the warming to normal fluctuations in climate and other natural factors.