If you thought July was hot, you were right: It was one of Earth's hottest months ever recorded

Doyle Rice, USA TODAY
·3 min read
A man uses a wet towel to cool off, Tuesday, July 28, 2020, in New York. The city opened more than 300 fire hydrants with sprinkler caps to help residents cool off during a heat wave.
A man uses a wet towel to cool off, Tuesday, July 28, 2020, in New York. The city opened more than 300 fire hydrants with sprinkler caps to help residents cool off during a heat wave.

Last month was a scorcher worldwide.

July 2020 tied with July 2016 as the second-hottest month ever recorded for the planet Earth, according to a report released Thursday by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

Only July 2019 was hotter, and only by a fraction of a degree.

"The July 2020 global land and ocean surface temperature was 1.66 degrees above the 20th-century average of 60.4 degrees, tying with 2016 as the second-highest temperature in the 141-year record," NOAA said. "Last month was only 0.02 of a degree F shy of tying the record-hot July of 2019."

July 2020 also marked the 44th-consecutive July and the 427th-consecutive month with temperatures above the 20th-century average, according to NOAA.

Experts say this is a sure sign of human-caused climate change: "The trend of record heat continues – a trend which we’ve shown in past publications can only be explained by the warming impact of fossil fuel burning," said Penn State University meteorologist Michael Mann.

Record-hot July temperatures spread across parts of southeastern Asia, northern South America and North America. In the U.S., several states either set or tied their hottest month on record, including Virginia (tied), Maryland, Pennsylvania (tied), Delaware, New Jersey, Connecticut (tied) and New Hampshire.

What’s more, the Northern Hemisphere saw its hottest July ever – surpassing its previous record high set just last year, NOAA said.

"The unprecedented summer heat waves, droughts, wildfires and floods we continue to witness are all a consequence of the record warmth," Mann said.

Selected significant climate anomalies and events in July 2020.
Selected significant climate anomalies and events in July 2020.

It was also very warm up north, as Arctic sea ice extent for July 2020 was the smallest-July extent in the 42-year record at 846,000 square miles (23.1%) below the 1981–2010 average, according to an analysis by the National Snow and Ice Data Center.

In addition, July continued the pattern of unusually warm months this year. For the year-to-date, 2020 is now the second-warmest year on record, trailing only 2016.

"The year-to-date global land and ocean surface temperature was the second-highest in the 141-year record at 1.89 degrees above the 20th-century average of 56.9 degrees," the report said. "This value is only 0.07 degree less than the record set in 2016."

It's the hottest year on record across a large portion of northern Asia, parts of Europe, China, Mexico, northern South America as well as the Atlantic, northern Indian and Pacific Oceans.

"The year 2020 is very likely to rank among the five warmest years on record," NOAA said.

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This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Climate change: July 2020 was one of hottest months ever recorded