July was the hottest month ever recorded on Earth

August 16, 2019, 10:50 a.m.
A woman cools down in a waterfall at Yards Park in Washington, DC, July 19, 2019, as an extreme heat wave hits the region.
Photo: SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images

July is typically Earth's warmest month of the year, but even by its own sweltering standards, July 2019 stood out. In fact, this July was the hottest month in recorded history, according to the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).

The July temperature across global land and ocean surfaces was 1.71 degrees Fahrenheit (0.95 degrees Celsius) above the 20th century average, according to NOAA. That makes it the highest temperature for July in the entire 140-year NOAA global temperature record, which dates back to 1880.

And while this July was extreme, superlatives like this have become incredibly common lately. Nine of the 10 warmest Julys have occurred since 2005, with the last five years (2015-2019) being the five warmest Julys on record. July 2019 also marks the 43rd consecutive July — and the 415th consecutive month overall — with temperatures above the 20th-century average, according to NOAA. This warming trend is primarily due to human-induced climate change, fueled by emissions of greenhouse gases.

July's intense heat caused a wide range of hardships around the planet. Europe sweltered under an intense heat wave, for example, and a record-breaking heat wave settled over the U.S. East Coast and Midwest, affecting about one-third of the U.S. population and causing widespread power outages. And at the top of the world, Arctic sea-ice extent was nearly 20% below average, according to NOAA, setting a new record low for July.

This record-breaking July also came on the heels of a record-breaking June, which was the hottest June ever recorded on Earth, according to NOAA.

Michael Mann, a climate scientist at Pennsylvania State University, noted the significance even before July had ended:

Later, Mann added, "In case I forgot to say it, beating the record isn't a good thing when it comes to climate change ..."

Editor's note: This article has been updated with new information since it was originally published in July 2019.