Soaring summer temperatures in Japan hit record, part of global trend

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Japan endures hottest summer on record

TOKYO — Japan is sweltering through its hottest summer on record, weather officials said Thursday.

The Asian country joins a large swath of the Northern Hemisphere that has experienced an unusually hot summer. Meteorologists say 17 nations have recorded all-time-high temperatures this year, more than in any other year, and scientists have said that July was the hottest month on record for the world’s oceans.

A heat wave in Russia unprecedented in 130 years of record-keeping triggered thousands of wildfires, while a surge in temperatures across much of Europe caused crops to wither and roads to melt. In the U.S., many cities in the northeast had record summer heat, while earlier this month 18 states issued heat advisories.

In the Middle East, temperatures hit a record high in Kuwait during June, while those in Saudi Arabia were several degrees above average. In China, Shanghai had its hottest August on record, while other provinces broke decades-old records, according to domestic media reports.

Across Japan, temperatures soared higher than historical averages by 2.96 degrees Fahrenheit (1.64 degrees Celsius) from June through August, the highest since 1898 when records began, according to the Japan Meteorological Agency.

That’s higher than the previous record set in the summer of 1994. In Tokyo, temperatures have climbed as high as 99 degrees Fahrenheit (37 Celsius).

Soaring temperatures sent more than 46,000 people to the hospital this summer, the Fire and Disaster Management Agency said. Some 150 people died from heat stroke.

The heat, however, has been good for the economy. A government report this week showed that retail sales rose 3.9 percent from a year earlier, as consumers bought cold drinks, summer clothing and cooling products.

Weather officials attributed the jump to global warming and a particularly strong high-pressure system in the Pacific Ocean. The nationwide average is based on temperatures recorded at 17 locations around the country.

To judge the average temperature for the country, the Japan Meteorological Agency compares average temperatures to the 30-year average from 1971 and 2000 in each location.

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