July 2023 was the hottest month on record: how climate change is playing a role

Published: Aug. 14, 2023 at 10:27 PM MST
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TUCSON, Ariz. (13 News) -In every corner of the country and here at home, people are experiencing the firsthand effects of climate change.

NASA reported that July 2023 was 0.43 degrees Fahrenheit warmer than any other July in NASA’s record, and Arizona is ground-zero for the rising temperatures.

“It’s been a summer of record heat globally, so not just here in the southwest,” said Zach Guido, system research professor for the Arizona Institute of Resilience at the University of Arizona.

Experts said scientists have been predicting this for years, so the high temperatures are no surprise. Human-caused climate change through greenhouse gas emissions mixed with El Nino set the stage for a record-breaking July.

“What we’re seeing now is a hotter year than we would normally have on top of a supercharged climate due to climate change. So, both of those together really is increasing those temperatures this year,” said Ladd Keith, assistant professor of planning at the University of Arizona.

One expert added that temperatures might have been different if we had seen an earlier monsoon in Tucson.

“The monsoon came on later than average, and there hasn’t been as much rain. Of course, when you have that moisture around, there’s cloud coverage which really puts a damper on the maximum heat temperatures,” said Guido.

As the country continues to see above-average temperatures year after year, experts said people could expect more wildfires, higher sea levels and severe natural disasters.

“We may have longer periods of drought, but then we may have more intense flooding as well because a hotter atmosphere holds more moisture,” said Keith.

And if things do not change, people could soon experience hotter falls and winters. This will likely increase the need for water and reduce the supply.

“As those temperatures rise, and we get less of that normal snowpack that we would have, and that’s impacting our water supply as well for the Southwest,” said Keith.

Experts added that it is not too late to reverse the effects. They suggested changing to greener infrastructure, increasing tree canopies, and reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

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