The Northern Hemisphere is feeling the heat this week.
Parts of Europe, Asia and North America are gearing up for peak temperatures, while the world’s oceans have reached record high sea surface temperatures. The return of an El Niño climate pattern, which occurs naturally and often raises global temperatures, also raises fears about what to expect in the coming weeks as much of the planet faces the hottest months of the year .
An early season heat wave is expected to bring stifling conditions to the UK this week, with temperatures in some places expected to be nearly 20 degrees Fahrenheit (10 degrees Celsius) hotter than normal for this time in June.
Summer officially begins on June 21, the summer solstice.
Scotland recorded its hottest day of the year so far on Monday, at 86°F (30°C), with warmer-than-usual conditions expected to continue throughout the week, as reported by BBC News. At least three British guards fainted during a royal military parade in central London over the weekend when temperatures soared above 30 degrees Celsius, according to Sky News.
Climate change is expected to make heat waves both more likely and more intense, increasing the risk of wildfires, droughts and heat-related illnesses and deaths around the world.
In South Asia, a prolonged heat wave in Bangladesh caused a power crisis as temperatures exceeded 104°F (40°C) for several days.
In the United States, Texas is bracing for high humidity and triple-digit temperatures this week. Dangerously hot conditions are forecast across much of the state, including Dallas, Austin, San Antonio and Houston.
“Near record to record heat remains in forecast all week in South Central Texas, with warmest days likely coming Thursday and Friday,” the The National Weather Service tweeted this on Monday. “It will be important to plan ahead to stay cool during these dangerously hot conditions.”
Meanwhile, things aren’t much better for the world’s oceans.
Sea surface temperatures around the world have reached record or near record highs in the past three months. The increase in global ocean temperatures — especially in such a short time — is unprecedented, said Glen Gawarkiewicz, an associate scientist in physical oceanography at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution in Massachusetts.
“The rapid warming in the spring was so enormous,” he said, adding that it will take some time for scientists to understand what is causing the temperature spike. “It’s very tough because we’ve never seen a jump of that magnitude over such a large area before.”
Scientists are closely monitoring sea surface temperatures, as warmer oceans could accelerate sea level rise and intensify storms and extreme weather events. But even small changes can have far-reaching consequences for marine ecosystems.
Gawarkiewicz’s own research focuses on the Gulf of Maine, a region particularly sensitive to changes in temperature, salinity and other effects of climate change.
“I work very closely with the commercial fishing industry in the Northeast and it is very disturbing to hear that, for example, the seasonal movement of fish is very much affected,” he said.
Elsewhere in the world, warmer sea surface temperatures could fuel tropical cyclones, wreak havoc on marine environments and cause Arctic ice melt at an accelerated rate.
With the return of El Niño, a naturally occurring climate pattern, the warming trend will continue.
El Niño occurs when changes in the strength or direction of trade winds cause waters in the central and eastern tropical Pacific to become warmer than normal. These shifts strongly affect global temperatures, rainfall, hurricanes and other severe storm systems.
Gawarkiewicz said this could lead to more heat waves and droughts around the world, along with the potential for “major disruptions” to marine ecosystems, such as coral bleaching.
“I think the consequences could be serious,” he said.
This article was originally published on NBCNews.com