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Heat Records Broken in 17 Countries So Far This Year

Temperature Records

This graphic shows the new record high temperatures for the 17 nations that have broken their national records so far in 2010. Previously, the largest number of countries to break such records in a single year was 14, according to Weather Underground and The Guardian newspaper. If verified, the record set in Pakistan would also stand as the warmest temperature ever recorded in the continent of Asia. Click on the graphic for a larger version. Graphic design by Russell Freedman.

Andrew Freedman

By Andrew Freedman

This year is a little more than half over, and already it is one for the climate record books. 2010 has featured several extreme heat events, as well as record flooding, in many countries worldwide. The number of countries that have set new national records for the warmest temperature recorded — 17 — would beat the old record of 14, provided that all of the new records are verified by meteorological agencies. According to meteorologist Jeff Masters of the private weather forecasting firm Weather Underground, located in Ann Arbor, Michigan, the countries that have set new records thus far this year comprise about 19 percent of the earth's surface area.

Masters wrote on his blog: "These nations comprise 19 percent of the total land area of Earth. This is the largest area of Earth's surface to experience all-time record high temperatures in any single year in the historical record. Looking back at the past decade, which was the hottest decade in the historical record, 75 countries set extreme hottest temperature records (33 percent of all countries.) For comparison, fifteen countries set extreme coldest temperature records over the past ten years (six percent of all countries)." According to Masters, Guinea, which is located in northwestern Africa, is the one nation so far this year to break its coldest temperature record, which occurred in early January.

The new record high temperature set in Belarus occurred during the Russian heat wave, which is still gripping portions of that country. Although Russia did not set any all-time record high temperatures, Moscow did, breaking 100 degrees Fahrenheit for the first time.

 

Temperature departures from average for July 2010, as measured by NASA. Note the warmth (in red) centered over western Russia. Credit: NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies.

For the planet as a whole, 2010 has been extremely warm, with the June to July period ranking as the warmest such period on record. Part of the warmth earlier this year may have been due to an El Nino event in the Pacific Ocean, which tends to warm the planet, but that event is no longer taking place. Manmade global warming is likely also playing a role in the record warmth. Scientists, including Climate Central's Claudia Tebaldi, have published studies showing that as the planet warms due to increasing concentrations of greenhouse gases, warm temperature extremes become more likely to occur.