We just experienced the hottest May on record.
By Erika Morris
This year saw the hottest May the world has ever recorded.
In the last year, global temperatures were 0.7 degrees Celsius warmer than average. The European Copernicus Climate Change Service’s figures show a 1.26 degree Celsius increase over pre-industrial temperature levels for May. According to the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, if global temperatures rise 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial temperatures, the effects on the planet would be devastating.
Siberia, which holds most of the world’s permafrost, was up by 10 degrees Celsius. The permafrost, which is now melting, has been the cause of giant sinkholes in Russia. The country has seen its hottest winter in the last 140 years and a lack of snow.
But it wasn’t necessarily hotter everywhere. For example, most of Europe was generally a bit colder, depending on geography. Though Copernicus accounts show higher temperatures around a large section of the Arctic from March to May, this spring was colder in northern Canada.
These heatwaves are particularly worrying for the regions across parts of Siberia and Alaska that were swallowed up by forest fires last year due to climate change. Some of the “zombie” blazes that were still smouldering have already reignited.
Altogether, global temperatures have increased by more than 1 degree Celsius since the mid-19th century, largely due to our use of fossil fuels. Over the last decade, temperatures have steadily been rising while the last five years have been the hottest documented.
Under the 2015 Paris Agreement, almost 200 countries promised to mitigate the effects of climate change and lower their carbon emissions to make sure the Earth’s average surface temperature stays “well bellow” 2 degrees Celsius.