July 3 may have marked the hottest day ever recorded

Preliminary data shows that the average global temperature reached 63.62 degrees Fahrenheit.
Beach-goers seeking relief from the heat at Bolsa Chica State Beach in Huntington Beach California, on July 1, 2023.
Beach-goers seeking relief from the heat at Bolsa Chica State Beach in Huntington Beach California, on July 1, 2023. Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times via Getty Images

Monday July 3, 2023 was possibly the hottest day ever recorded by humans, according to preliminary data from the University of Maine’s Climate Reanalyzer Project. The average global temperature reached 63.62 degrees Fahrenheit, beating out the previous record of 62.46 degrees set back in August 2016. According to some experts, this is yet another sign of the worsening global climate crisis.

[Related: Extreme heat to blanket Texas with ‘no end in sight.’]

The Climate Reanalyzer is a common tool climate scientists often use to get a sense of the world’s temperatures. This data visualization model is based on a National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association (NOAA) computer simulations intended to create forecasts and uses satellite data. Its predictions are based on using a weather tool for forecasting and not on the ground record keeping. 

Much of the planet has been settled into the dog days of summer. For over a week, a large swath of the southern United States has been stuck under an intense heat dome and wildfires near the Oregon and Washington State border are quickly spreading.  These extreme weather patterns have likely been exacerbated by human-caused climate change, combined with an emerging El Niño pattern. El Niño is a temporary natural warming of parts of the central Pacific Ocean that changes and affects weather patterns around the globe and generally makes Earth hotter and heat waves more intense. 

High temperature records were beaten July 3 and 4 in both Quebec and northwestern Canada, as well as further south in Peru. 

Beijing, China has recorded nine straight days last week with temperatures above 95 degrees, while North Africa is seeing temperatures at around 122 degrees. Currently experiencing its winter, even Antarctica isn’t spared from unusual heat. Ukraine’s Vernadsky Research Base in Antarctica’s Argentine Islands recently broke its July temperature record with 47.6 degrees. 

“Unfortunately, it [this record] promises to only be the first in a series of new records set this year as increasing emissions of [carbon dioxide] and greenhouse gasses coupled with a growing El Nino event push temperatures to new highs,” Berkeley Earth research scientist Zeke Hausfather said in a statement, reported by Reuters

[Related: ‘Unprecedented’ ocean temperatures and extreme heat waves pop up around the globe.]

This week’s global record is preliminary and is awaiting approval from NOAA. Climate scientists typically use longer time frames of months, years, and decades to track the planet’s warming and this preliminary record is based on data that goes back to 1979 when satellites record-keeping began, while NOAA’s date goes back to 1880. “In the climate assessment community, I don’t think we’d assign the kind of gravitas to a single day observation as we would a month or a year,’’ National Center for Environmental Information (a NOAA division) director Deke Arndt told the Associated Press.

However, some experts still see this as an indication that climate change is heading into some uncharted waters as heat waves get more frequent and intense. 

“They are getting hotter,” Climate Analytics scientist and Columbia University adjunct scientist Kai Kornhuber, told NPR on June 28 when discussing the South’s heatwave. “They are occurring at a higher frequency, so that also increases the likelihood of sequential heat waves.”