GENEVA - The World Meteorological Organization (WMO) says the world's leading weather stations confirm the Earth has just had the warmest June on record, since record keeping began in 1880.
Meteorologists say nine of the 10 warmest Junes on record have occurred since 2010. The 10th record-holder was in June 1998. WMO says last month's record-breaking temperatures were felt across the globe. It says no land or ocean areas have recorded cold temperatures in June.
But WMO spokeswoman Claire Nullis says temperatures are only part of the story.
"June saw the second-smallest Arctic sea ice extent for the month on record and the lowest Antarctic sea ice extent," she said. "… There is a lot of concern this week about fires in Greenland as part of the unusual spike in Arctic blazes."
Nullis notes Alert, Canada, the northernmost settlement on Earth, reached a high of 21 degrees Celsius (70 degrees Fahrenheit) for the first time in history a few days ago. And now, she says the U.S. National Weather Service is issuing warnings about dangerous heat and humidity through this weekend in two-thirds of the United States.
Nullis says the heat wave will affect millions of people from the Great Plains to the East Coast. She says temperatures of 38 to 43 degrees Celsius are expected.
"Twenty to 30 record high temperatures are expected and no relief at night is expected," she said. "Again, the National Weather Service is predicting that about 123 minimum overnight temperature records may be tied or broken."
Scientists say heatwaves such as the one Earth is currently experiencing are consistent with climate scenarios. They predict more frequent, drawn out and intense heat events as greenhouse gas concentrations lead to a rise in global temperatures.