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Thursday, July 2, 2015

Record Heat Around the Western US, World: As Americans Celebrate Independence Day, Climate Change Drives Record Breaking Heat

Record Heat Around the Western US, World
As Americans Celebrate Independence Day, Climate Change Drives Record Breaking Heat
To: Reporters
From: Climate Nexus

Date: July 2, 2015

Re: Record breaking heat and its climate connection
While the United States celebrates the 4th of July this weekend, those attending picnics and fireworks will face hotter than normal conditions in many places across the country. June’s record-breaking heat is expected to continue into July, prompting the UN to issue heatwave warning guidelines for the first time. Pakistan’s heat wave, finally subsiding, claimed the lives of over 1,300 people and caused another 100,000 heatstrokes. This means that with India’s lethal heat wave, two of the ten deadliest heat waves in world history occurred in 2015.

The northwestern U.S. experienced a particularly hot June, with records broken in WashingtonOregonIdahoUtahNevada and Alaska (where fires have burned nearly 2 million acres.) In the last week of June alone, 465 daily and 49 monthly heat records were broken or tied. Caution should be taken to stay cool and hydrated, as the recent Lancet Commission on Health and Climate Change report points out, there is “a well-established relationship between extreme high temperatures and human morbidity and mortality.” 

Meanwhile, London’s Wimbledon tennis tournament has players competing on the hottest July day ever recorded in the UK. Although one ball boy has collapsed, so far there are no reports of hallucinations like at last year’s Australian Open. In France, the heat wave is so intense that it is threatening power supplies, and Madrid’s 104˚F temperatures set a new June record. Even in South America, where it’s winter, heat records have been broken by nearly 2.2˚F, meaning there’s been extreme heat on four continents.

A study published in Nature in June found that the weather patterns that cause heat waves like the one in the Northwest have become more common in recent years, consistent with a line of research connecting the global warming-induced melting of the Arctic with unusual mid-latitude weather patterns, the result of changes in the jet stream.

The relationship between extreme heat and climate change is well established:
  • The IPCC states that the frequency and duration of heat waves worldwide have increased since 1950.
  • Over the past 30 years, the geographic area experiencing extreme summer heat has increased by more than ten-fold.
  • Climate change made Russia’s 2010 heat wave five times more likely to occur.
  • Record breaking high temperatures have outnumbered lows in the US by two to one. (National Climate Assessment, Ch. 2, figure 2.7, shown below)

If you’d like to arrange an interview with scientists on this topic or have further questions, please contact Paige Knappenberger,, or Emma Stieglitz,

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