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TOPSHOT - The sun sets over the Mesquite Flat Sand Dunes in Death Valley National Park, near Furnace Creek, during a heatwave impacting Southern California on July 7, 2024. Temperatures in Death Valley could reach as high as 130 degrees Farenheit (54 degrees Celsius) on Sunday, according to US National Weather Service. (Photo by ETIENNE LAURENT / AFP)
TOPSHOT - The sun sets over the Mesquite Flat Sand Dunes in Death Valley National Park, near Furnace Creek, during a heatwave impacting Southern California on July 7, 2024. Temperatures in Death Valley could reach as high as 130 degrees Farenheit (54 degrees Celsius) on Sunday, according to US National Weather Service. (Photo by ETIENNE LAURENT / AFP)

2024 could be hottest year ever

June breaks heat record • Kuwait weekend heat to exceed 50C • Ocean temps hit new highs

KUWAIT/BRUSSELS: Last month was the hottest June on record, the EU’s climate change monitoring service said on Monday, continuing a streak of exceptional temperatures that some scientists said puts 2024 on track to be the world’s hottest recorded year. Every month since June 2023 – 13 months in a row – has ranked as the planet’s hottest since records began, compared with the corresponding month in previous years, the European Union’s Copernicus Climate Change Service (C3S) said in a monthly bulletin.

The latest data suggest 2024 could outrank 2023 as the hottest year since records began after human-caused climate change and the El Nino natural weather phenomenon both pushed temperatures to record highs in the year so far, some scientists said. “I now estimate that there is an approximately 95 percent chance that 2024 beats 2023 to be the warmest year since global surface temperature records began in the mid-1800s,” said Zeke Hausfather, a research scientist at US non-profit Berkeley Earth.

Kuwait will be affected by a heatwave during the weekend, as temperatures are expected to exceed 50 degrees Celsius in some areas, the meteorological department said on Monday. Kuwait Meteorological Center Director General Abdulaziz Al-Qarawi said in a statement to KUNA that the weather will be hot on Thursday, while on Friday, the country will be affected by heat amid unsteady northwesterly winds accompanied by dust that would affect vision in open areas.

The changed climate has already unleashed disastrous consequences around the world in 2024. More than 1,000 people died in fierce heat during the haj pilgrimage last month. Heat deaths were recorded in New Delhi, which endured an unprecedentedly long heatwave, and amongst tourists in Greece.

Friederike Otto, a climate scientist at Imperial College London’s Grantham Institute, said there was a “high chance” 2024 would rank as the hottest year on record. “El Nino is a naturally occurring phenomenon that will always come and go. We can’t stop El Nino, but we can stop burning oil, gas, and coal,” she said.

The natural El Nino phenomenon, which warms the surface waters in the eastern Pacific Ocean, tends to raise global average temperatures. That effect subsided in recent months, with the world now in neutral conditions before cooler La Nina conditions are expected to form later this year. C3S’ dataset goes back to 1940, which the scientists

cross-checked with other data to confirm that last month was the hottest June since the 1850-1900 pre-industrial period.

Greenhouse gas emissions from burning fossil fuels are the main cause of climate change. Despite promises to curb global warming, countries have so far failed collectively to reduce these emissions, pushing temperatures steadily higher for decades. In the 12 months ending in June, the world’s average temperature was the highest on record for any such period, at 1.64 degrees Celsius above the pre-industrial average, C3S said.

Ocean temperatures have also been hitting new highs. Record sea surface temperatures in the Atlantic, the Northern Pacific and Indian Ocean also contributed to the soaring heat across the globe. Sea surface temperatures hit a separate milestone in June – 15 straight months of new highs. The oceans cover 70 percent of the Earth’s surface and absorb 90 percent of the extra heat associated with rising climate-warming emissions.

Scorching heat has blanketed swathes of the world from India to Saudi Arabia, the United States and Mexico in the first half of this year. Relentless rain, a phenomenon scientists have also linked to a warmer planet, caused extensive flooding in Kenya, China, Brazil, Afghanistan, Russia and France. Wildfires have torched land in Greece and Canada and last week, Hurricane Beryl became the earliest category five Atlantic hurricane on record as it barreled across several Caribbean islands. – Agencies

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