The graph below illustrates the anomalous warmth of July 1960 as well as the recent string of very warm Julys in the 21st century.
|Source: NOAA Regional Climate Centers|
In July 1960, anomalous warmth covered much of the western continental U.S. and southwest Canada, with the most anomalous temperatures along the US-Canadian border. Elswhere, one sees a mixture of both cold and warm anomalies with Most of southern and central Europe and central Asia being cold and far northern Europe warm. By eye, it appears that overall the Northern Hemisphere is probably a bit cooler than the 1981-2010 climo, which is what we would expect given the global scale warming that has occurred since 1960.
In July 2018, we see a different story. Not surprisingly, anomalous warmth exists over the western U.S., but not the dominance of warm anomalies elsewhere, including maxima in Scandanavia, North Africa, and central Asia. Cold anomalies are more localized.
This is consistent with the warming that has occurred in recent decades, which has stacked the deck for warmth, so that longer, more severe heat waves are more likely.
Tim Osborne's tweet went a step further than my simple analysis, however. He compared the 1976 and 2018 heatwaves in the UK (relative to the 1960-1990 average, which is 20 years sooner than the plots above), but then examined what would happen based on climate projections for 2070 and scenarios in which greenhouse gas emissions peak in 2080 (RCP6.0) or are aggressively reduced to limit the global average temperatures to less than 2˚C above preindustrial. In either case, we have more warming in the pipeline and are facing a hotter future with longer, more severe heat waves. How much hotter depends on future greenhouse gas emissions.
|Source: @TimOsbornClim (https://twitter.com/TimOsbornClim/status/1023950044234502144)|
This is why "Normal Is Gone Forever". The future climate is dramatically different from the one you grew up with.
It should be noted, however, that the emergence of climate shifts depends on the variable. Detectable and significant shifts in temperature are early "emergers". Shifts in other variables, like snowfall and snowpack are occurring, but may emerge more slowly in some regions compared to others (e.g., declines in snowfall and snowpack may occur later or more slowly in colder regions than warmer regions). For more discussion of this, see our August 2013 posts Western Snow Trends and Global Warming Part I and Part II.