Another ‘shocking’ heat record set in May
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Another ‘shocking’ heat record set in May

World has now set temperature records for 12 consecutive months

A rickshaw driver wipes his face during a heat wave in New Delhi, on May 18. (Photo: Bloomberg)
A rickshaw driver wipes his face during a heat wave in New Delhi, on May 18. (Photo: Bloomberg)

May marked the Earth’s 12th consecutive month of record-breaking temperatures, with more heat waves expected this summer.

The European Union’s Copernicus Climate Change Service reported that overall temperatures globally in May were 1.52 degrees Celsius above historical averages and marked the hottest May on record.

The month witnessed often catastrophic heat from California to New Delhi, even leading to fatalities.

Climate change is exacerbating the effects of extreme weather with the past 12 months producing a global average temperature 1.63C higher than pre-industrial levels, and above the 1.5C threshold that policymakers and scientists say threatens life on the planet.

“It is shocking but not surprising that we have reached this 12-month streak,” Copernicus director Carlo Buontempo said in a statement.

“We are living in unprecedented times, but we also have unprecedented skill in monitoring the climate and this can help inform our actions.”

The northern hemisphere is bracing for another extreme summer after scorching heat threatened the health and livelihoods of millions last year. 

California and the US Southwest are looking at their first major heat wave this week with temperatures expected to touch 40C. More blistering days are expected later in June. The UK beat the 2008 record for the hottest May with average temperatures set to rise in June as well. 

India has blown past 50C last month with nearly 100 deaths recorded in the last few days in one of the worst-affected states.

Currently a strong El Niño or warming in the Pacific which has driven some of these record temperatures is winding down. La Niñas often follow intense El Niños leading to a drastic shift in weather patterns — bringing droughts to some places even as it produces flooding and hurricanes in others. 

La Nina occurs when the surface of the Pacific Ocean along the equator cools and the atmosphere above it reacts.

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