The latest numbers help prove "that climate change is out of control," says UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres.
Earth reached its hottest day ever for the third day in a row on Wednesday, according to one unofficial analysis. This made the past seven days the world's hottest week on record.
The latest numbers help prove "that climate change is out of control," warns UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres.
"If we persist in delaying key measures that are needed, I think we are moving into a catastrophic situation, as the last two records in temperature demonstrates,” he says.
How hot was the Earth this week?
On Wednesday, Earth’s average temperature remained at an unofficial record high, 17.18°C, set the day before.
And for the seven-day period ending Wednesday, the daily average temperature was 0.04°C higher than any week in 44 years of record-keeping.
The data was compiled by the University of Maine’s Climate Reanalyzer, which uses satellite data and computer simulations to measure the world’s condition.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), whose figures are considered the gold standard in climate data, has distanced itself from the data.
The Reanalyzer uses model output data, which NOAA called "not suitable” as substitutes for actual temperatures and climate records. The agency monitors global temperatures and records on a monthly and an annual basis, not daily.
“Although NOAA cannot validate the methodology or conclusion of the University of Maine analysis, we recognise that we are in a warm period due to climate change,” it said in a statement on Thursday.
"Combined with El Nino and hot summer conditions, we’re seeing record warm surface temperatures being recorded at many locations across the globe,” it continued.
Scientists say climate change is reaching unchartered territory
Though the figures are unofficial, many scientists agree they indicate climate change is reaching uncharted territory.
More frequent and more intense heatwaves are disrupting life around the world and causing life-threatening temperatures.
Places that are sweltering under dangerous heat include Jingxing, China, which checked in over 43°C. Even Antarctica was unusually warm, with temperatures across much of the continent as much as 4.5°C above normal this week.
“This is one more reminder of the inexorable upward trend that will only be halted by decisive actions to wean ourselves off fossil fuels, invest in nature and achieve net zero,” says Katharine Hayhoe, chief scientist of environmental organisation The Nature Conservancy and a climate scientist at Texas Tech.
What's behind the soaring temperatures?
Overall, one of the largest contributors to this week's heat records is an exceptionally mild winter in the Antarctic. Parts of the continent and nearby ocean were 10-20°C higher than averages from 1979 to 2000.
“Temperatures have been unusual over the ocean and especially around the Antarctic this week, because wind fronts over the Southern Ocean are strong pushing warm air deeper south,” says Raghu Murtugudde, professor of atmospheric, oceanic and earth system science at the University of Maryland and visiting faculty at the Indian Institute of Technology, Bombay.
Chari Vijayaraghavan, a polar explorer and educator who has visited the Arctic and Antarctic regularly for the past 10 years, said global warming is obvious at both poles and threatens the region's wildlife as well as driving ice melt that raises sea levels.
“Warming climates might lead to increasing risks of diseases such as the avian flu spreading in the Antarctic that will have devastating consequences for penguins and other fauna in the region," says Chari.
Robert Watson, a scientist and former chairman of the UN's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, said governments and the private sector “are not truly committed to address climate change." Nor are citizens, he added.
“They demand cheap energy, cheap food and do not want to pay the true cost of food and energy.”