Earth just experienced its hottest month on record

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NOAA’s National Centers for Environmental Information issued a press release on Friday detailing how July 2021 “earned the unenviable distinction as the world’s hottest month ever recorded.”

Previously, July 2016 held the record for the hottest month on record, when global temperatures were 1.65 degrees Fahrenheit above normal. This benchmark was reached again in 2019 and 2020.

Overall, the land and ocean surface temperatures last month were 1.67 degrees Fahrenheit above normal, according to data in the NCEI press release, topping 2016 by 0.02 F. Records of the hottest months on record date back to 1880.

Land & Ocean Temperature Ranking & Departure From Average July 2021
Land & Ocean Temperature Ranking & Departure From Average July 2021

“In this case, first place is the worst place to be,” said NOAA Administrator Rick Spinrad. “July is typically the world’s warmest month of the year, but July 2021 outdid itself as the hottest July and month ever recorded.”

Given the global temperatures measured throughout 2021, NOAA said that it is “very likely” that 2021 will finish as the warmest year on record. “This new record adds to the disturbing and disruptive path that climate change has set for the globe,” Spinrad said.

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Land surface temperatures during the day in July 2021 measured by NASA’s TERRA and MODIS satellites.

In the contiguous United States, July ranked as only the 13th warmest July on record, in part due to spells of below-normal temperatures in the eastern half of the country. However, this is only part of the story.

The interior West roasted due to record-challenging heat waves, including a 130-degree temperature reading in Death Valley. This is only the second time that the hottest place on Earth has hit this landmark since 1913. The other occurrence happened on Aug. 16, 2020.

On the other side of the hemisphere, Asia endured its warmest July on record, while Europe experienced its second-warmest July on record.

However, not every corner of the globe was exceptionally warm.

A map of the world is plotted with some of the most significant climate events that occurred during July 2021. Graphic courtesy of NOAA NCEI

Antarctica is starting to turn the corner on winter, and it has been a bit colder than those in recent years. According to NCEI, the Antarctic sea ice in July 2021 was ” the largest July sea ice extent since 2015 and the eighth highest on record.”

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A much different story unfolded around the North Pole, however, with the Arctic sea ice extent coming in as the fourth-smallest in the past 43 years of record keeping.

On Monday, a new report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change followed the trend of gradually rising temperatures on a global scale that could have long-term effects. That report was called “a code red for humanity.”

“Scientists from across the globe delivered the most up-to-date assessment of the ways in which the climate is changing,” Spinrad said in a statement. “It is a sobering IPCC report that finds that human influence is, unequivocally, causing climate change, and it confirms the impacts are widespread and rapidly intensifying.”


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