You may have noticed the words “ever” and “in recorded history” thrown around recently, especially if you live in the northern hemisphere. And if you haven’t, let me catch you up to speed – the last few weeks saw us achieve the hottest day on record, followed quickly by the hottest ever week in recorded history.

This follows the revelations that we have just lived through our hottest ever June and the World Meteorological Organisation declaring an official start to El Niño – the climate pattern characterised by unusually warm waters, droughts and other hostile weather effects throughout the world.

So, what’s causing all of this?

According to climate scientist Kimberley Reid, there are multiple factors that might be contributing to our current woes. Climate change may be part of it, but it’s the combined power of global warming and El Niño’s ability to redistribute heat that is creating the perfect storm here.

The extreme warming we are witnessing is in large part due to the El Niño now occurring, which comes on top of the warming trend caused by humans emitting greenhouse gases.

Kimberley Reid, Postdoctoral Research Fellow in Atmospheric Sciences, Monash University

And this hasn’t just come out of the blue, but rather, the deep blue. See, we haven’t had an El Niño event in several years, but during that time the concentrated heat that’s been building over the last few “La Niña” years has been stored in the ocean. Now with the changing weather conditions we are seeing that heat rise to the surface and cause chaos for summer-stricken communities.

Hit the link to see what role aerosols play in all this, as well as the chance this is an anomaly, and not a glimpse into a drastically warmer future.

Stay in the loop

Subscribe to Limelight, our monthly newsletter packed with analysis, insights and resources to help you live a happier and healthier life.