July on course to be hottest month ever, say climate scientists – ENVIRONMENT AND DEVELOMPMENT

Record temperatures across much of the world over the past two weeks could make July the hottest month ever measured on Earth, according to climate scientists.

The past fortnight has seen freak heat in the Canadian Arctic, crippling droughts in Chennai and Harare and forest fires that forced thousands of holidaymakers to abandon campsites in southern France and prompted the air force in Indonesia to fly cloud-busting missions in the hope of inducing rain.

If the trends of the first half of this month continue, it will beat the previous record from July 2017 by about 0.025C, according to calculations by Karsten Haustein, a climate scientist at the University of Oxford, and others.

This follows the warmest-ever June, which was confirmed this week by data from the US space agency Nasa, following Europe’s Copernicus satellite monitoring system.

In response to the new numbers, Michael Mann, the director of the Earth System Science Center at Pennsylvania State University, tweeted: “This is significant. But stay tuned for July numbers. July is the warmest month of the year globally. If this July turns out to be the warmest July (it has a good shot at it), it will be the warmest month we have measured on Earth.”

The scientists stressed that this outcome is uncertain because conditions could change in the second half of the month, but it underscores a broader pattern of steadily rising temperatures caused by increasing emissions of carbon dioxide from power plants, deforestation, cars, planes and other sources.

Mann estimated the chance of a new record this month at about 50%. In the longer term, he said records would continually be broken. “We have shown in recent work that the record warm streaks we’ve seen in recent years cannot be explained without accounting for human-caused planetary warming. Those warm streaks are certain to not only continue but to worsen if we continue to burn fossil fuels and warm the planet.”

Nine of the 10 hottest years on record have occurred since 2000, according to the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Data from the first six months of this year indicates this year has a 99.9% chance of entering the top five, according to Gavin Schmidt.

“It is clear that 2019 is shaping up to be a top-five year – but depending on what happens it could be second, third or fourth warmest. The warmest year was 2016, which started with a big El Niño, which we didn’t have this year, so a record year is not particularly likely,” he said.

Of the many recent temperature anomalies, perhaps the most remarkable was in the Canadian Arctic community of Alert, Nunavut, which hit a record 21C on 14 July, although temperatures at this time of year are usually just a few degrees above freezing.

Last month, France shattered its previous heat record during a heatwave across much of Europe that was made at least five times – and possibly hundreds of times – more likely by human-driven climate disruption, according to scientists.

Political leaders have failed to halt the rise in emissions that is behind global heating. On Tuesday, the UK environment secretary, Michael Gove, warned that time was running out to prevent a breakdown of the climate and natural life support systems. “These twin challenges of biodiversity and climate change are massive and urgent and interrelated. The action taken so far hasn’t been sufficient, but late as it may be, there is still time,” he warned. “The scale of action required may be daunting, but the need to act is imperative.”

The UK has avoided most of the extreme heat seen in Europe in elsewhere in recent weeks. The average temperature in the first two weeks of July was 15.1C, which equals the July average, though Mark McCarthy, the head of the Met Office’s National Climate Information Centre, said there might be a modest rise because the second half of the month is usually marginally warmer than the first.

Concerns about rising temperatures and their impact on health are growing. On Tuesday, the Red Cross launched a new Heatwave Guide to help urban planners and city authorities reduce the risks, which are particularly great for the elderly, very young children, pregnant women and people who are socially isolated.

“Heatwaves are one of the deadliest natural hazards facing humanity and the threat they pose will only become more serious and more widespread as the climate crisis continues,” said Francesco Rocca, the president of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies.

Previous heatwaves have killed tens of thousands of people, including 2,500 in India in 2015 and 70,000 in Europe in 2003, according to the Red Cross. (The Guardian)


Hundreds evacuated after fires break out across Israel amid scorching heatwave HAARETZ

Two moderately injured from smoke inhalation ■ Police block several roads near areas where firefighters are working to control flames
Bar Peleg, Josh Breiner, Noa Shpigel, Aaron Rabinowitz, Yotam Berger, Zafrir Rinat | Jul. 17, 2019 | 4:59 PM

Several wildfires broke out Wednesday across Israel as temperatures reached a scorching 49.9 degrees Celsius (121 Fahrenheit) amidst an intense heatwave, prompting the evacuation of hundreds of houses across the country.

Firefighters were put on red alert, and volunteer firefighters were called up throughout the country as blazes raged. Five people from throughout the country, three men aged 64, 60 and 35 and two women aged 70 and 41, were lightly injured from smoke inhalation.

Fires have concentrated in three areas: Or Yehuda, Wadi Ara and Beit Shemesh. Firefighting Commissioner Teddy Simchi declared a state of high alert.

In the city of Or Yehuda, south of Tel Aviv, five homes caught on fire and residents were evacuated from their homes, police say, and some 200 houses in the towns around Wadi Ara were evacuated due to nearby fires.

Residents were also evacuated from the West Bank settlement of Shavei Shomron. An additional fire broke out in Neot Kedumim near Mod’in, where 15 residents were evacuated, and the Mitkan Adam army base was evacuated as well. Due to winds and inclement weather, firefighters are managing the situation on foot, without the help of firefighting planes.

Police say the fire at Ramat Pinkas is spreading throughout the neighborhood. “Immediately after the incident began, the residents were evacuated due to heavy smoke,” the police added.

According to firefighters, a fire broke out in an open area east of Highway 4 after brush ignited. “Due to the intense winds, the fire is spreading rapidly, so most firefighting forces are concentrated on the western houses of Ramat Pinkas and the southern area of Or Yehuda,” authorities say.

In Haifa, Technion-the Israel Institute of Technology, was evacuated as a precaution. The police emphasized that there was no present danger to the campus.

Fires also broke out in the settlement of Tomer in the Jordan Valley, the Ramot Menashe forest and Nahariya.

Two additional fires broke out at the entrance of the central moshav of Nehalim near several highways. Firefighters are working to control the fires.

The police have blocked several roads as a result of the fires.

Wednesday’s temperatures are the highest measured since the establishment of the State of Israel, and second only to the peak temperature of 54 degrees Celsius (129 Fahrenheit) in 1942, measured in the Jordan Valley.

The Israel Meteorological Service noted that extreme temperatures have been measured in the past, but the fact that the temperature records have been continuously broken over the past years reflects the fact that global climate change affects not only the average temperature, but extreme weather as well.

“Even though it is difficult to attribute an isolated incident to climate change, according to our best estimates, global warming will continue, and we expect the number of extreme heat waves to rise, and a higher probability of breaking other temperature reocrds,” an announcement from the meteorological service read.

Israel’s Health Ministry warned the elderly and chronically ill against heat exposure and unnecessary physical exertion amid the heatwave. The Firefighting and Rescue Commission called on the public to avoid trying to put out fires themselves due to risks of causing the flames to spread further. They also said that firefighting units have been maximized in anticipation of the fires.


Firefighters battling blaze at entrance to Jerusalem YNET

Dozen firefighting teams, four planes dispatched to the scene; train line from Ben-Gurion Airport to capital briefly suspended, Route 1 highway from Tel Aviv also closed sporadically

Roi Rubinstein and Yael Freidson|Published: 07.18.19

Firefighters were battling Thursday to control a fire that broke out in the afternoon in the area of the Lifta nature reserve at the entrance to Jerusalem.

A dozen firefighting and rescue teams and four firefighting planes were deployed to the scene.

Israel Railways suspended the train line from Jerusalem to Ben-Gurion Airport as the fire spread near the tunnels, providing buses instead for travelers.

The firefighters were able to stop the fire from spreading toward Route 1, the central highway between Jerusalem and Tel Aviv, but have yet to control the fire.

Due to the smoke and the use of flame retardants from a relatively low level, the highway was closed to traffic intermittently by police, and heavy traffic jams were reported in the area.

The fire comes a day after an extreme heatwave sent temperatures soaring into the 40s across much of the country, causing wildfires in multiple locations.

Hot as Hell: Temperature in Sodom Broke Israeli Record HAARETZ

Zafrir Rinat | Jul. 18, 2019

The heat wave that swept Israel on Wednesday reached its peak at Sodom, near the Dead Sea, where the mercury hit 49.9 degrees Celsius (almost 122 degrees Fahrenheit).

This is the highest temperature ever recorded since Israel was founded in 1948, and the second highest ever recorded in the area since national weather data gathering began in the 1920s during the British Mandate, said the Israel Meteorological Service.

The hottest temperature ever recorded in Israel was 54 degrees Celsius (129.2 Fahrenheit) in 1942 at Kibbutz Tirat Zvi in the northern Jordan Valley.

Even though extreme temperatures have been recorded in the distant past, the new absolute heat records in recent years demonstrate that global climate change and warming have affected both average temperatures and extreme highs, said the Meteorological Service.

“Even though it is hard to attribute an isolated event to climate change, according to the best estimates, warming will continue so we expect an increase in the number of extreme heat waves and a higher probability of breaking more temperature records,” said the Meteorological Service in a statement.

This heat wave covered all of Israel and was uncharacteristic of July, with very low humidity, 10 percent to 25 percent – even along the coast. A number of weather stations recorded their highest temperatures ever, and the heat in the coastal plain and just inland set new records for July – by a degree to a degree and a half. But the records that were broken were only set in July of last year.

Such weather near the Mediterranean coast is somewhat rare, usually occurring only once in 5 to 10 years – but has been happening much more often over the past decade, every 2 or 3 years.