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Kids News: Earth swelters through hottest month ever due to climate change

May 27, 2024

This July was the hottest ever month recorded on Earth and scientists say humans are responsible.

The EU’s Copernicus Climate Change Service (C3S) has confirmed the global average temperature last month was 16.95 degrees Celsius, making it the hottest month since global temperatures started being recorded in the 1940s.

While the number sounds like a typical winter’s day in many parts of Australia, it is actually much hotter than the average for the world, which takes into account the big rise and drop in temperatures during different parts of the day and night.

The global average temperature was calculated using weather stations, weather balloons and satellites.

The previous record for the hottest month was 16.63 degrees Celsius in July 2019. This was already much warmer than the 1991-2020 global average for the month.

It follows the hottest June on record for parts of Europe and America, where heatwaves and wildfires have wreaked havoc during the northern hemisphere’s summer.

WHY IS THE EARTH SO HOT?Deputy director of C3S Samantha Burgess said “anthropogenic” or human-made, greenhouse gas emissions are trapping heat in the Earth’s atmosphere and causing the record high temperatures.

“These records have dire consequences for both people and the planet exposed to ever more frequent and intense extreme events,” she said.

The research shows July 6 was the hottest single day of the month, with the global average temperature reaching 17.08 degrees Celsius.

SOUTH POLE FEELS EXTREME HEATEven one of the coldest places on Earth has been feeling the effects of extreme heat.

A research paper published in Frontiers in Environmental Science shows Antarctica in the South Pole has had temperatures as hot as an Australian summer and extreme weather events because of climate change.

Last summer, temperatures in the icy continent soared to a whopping 38 degrees Celsius.

Large ice sheets in the west are melting, which could lead to a massive rise in the sea level and dangerous flooding over the next few centuries. One western glacier is melting so fast that scientists have nicknamed it the Doomsday Glacier and researchers across the globe are racing to solve the problem.

Higher temperatures are a big concern for scientists because they worsen wildfires, disrupt ecosystems and impact our ability to grow crops.

URBAN HEAT ISLANDSCities are sometimes known as concrete jungles, but climatologists have come up with a new name – urban heat islands.

Cities around the world are feeling the heat even more than many rural areas because they have so much concrete and asphalt.

Studies have shown construction materials like asphalt or concrete act like an oven and absorb as much as 95 per cent of the sun’s energy before radiating it back into the air.

FLOOR IS LAVAIn the US city of Phoenix, where temperatures soared higher than 43 degrees Celsius for 30 days in a row in July, people falling on concrete or asphalt are being treated for burns because the ground is so hot. Director of the Arizona Burn Center in Phoenix Dr. Kevin Foster said concrete or asphalt in direct sunlight can get as hot as 82 degrees Celsius on a scorching day.

According to the US Environmental Protection Agency, the annual average air temperature of a city with one million or more people can be 1 to 3 degrees Celsius warmer than its surrounding areas.

Scientists say having more “green space” like parks and bushland can help a city stay cooler because plants release water into the air in a process called “evapotranspiration”, which acts like a natural airconditioner.



EXTRA READINGVisitors rush to the hottest place on EarthInside the ocean’s big blue … binGreat Barrier Reef gets thumbs up

QUICK QUIZ1. What instruments did C3S use to measure the global average temperature?2. What was the global average temperature in July?3. How hot did Antarctica get last summer?4. What is the name of the process whereby plants release water into the air?5. Why are cities generally hotter than surrounding rural areas?


CLASSROOM ACTIVITIES1. Too scary?“Kids News should not run this story, thinking about climate change is too scary for school students!” Do you agree with this statement? Write paragraphs explaining what you think. Remember to be as convincing as you can.

Time: allow 25 minutes to complete this activityCurriculum Links: English, Science, Geography, Civics and Citizenship, Personal and Social Capability

2. Extension How do you think evapotranspiration works? Draw a diagram based on how this would work in a city. Then, use your research skills to check to see how right you are. Make changes to your diagram, if you need to.

Time: allow 45 minutes to complete this activityCurriculum Links: English, Science, Geography

VCOP ACTIVITYRead this!A headline on an article – or a title on your text – should capture the attention of the audience, telling them to read this now. So choosing the perfect words for a headline or title is very important.

Create three new headlines for the events that took place in this article. Remember, what you write and how you write it will set the pace for the whole text, so make sure it matches.

Read out your headlines to a partner and discuss what the article will be about based on the headline you created. Discuss the tone and mood you set in just your few, short words. Does it do the article justice? Will it capture the audience’s attention the way you hoped? Would you want to read more?

Consider how a headline or title is similar to using short, sharp sentences throughout your text. They can be just as important as complex ones. Go through the last text you wrote and highlight any short, sharp sentences that capture the audience.