climate change

The world just experienced its warmest month ever

The Dixie wildfire in the US. Photo credit: Photo: Josh Edelson / AFP.

By Anders Lorenzen

On the back of the dark and sombre Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) climate report released last week, the US government agency National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) has confirmed that this July was the warmest month ever experienced on Earth.

NOAA’s National Centers for Environmental Information (NCEI) has announced that July 2021 has earned the distinction of the hottest month ever recorded. The news might not surprise many as it comes on the back of heatwaves that have sparked simultaneous wildfires in many parts of the world. 

A map of the world plotted with some of the most significant climate events that occurred during July 2021. Photo credit: NOAA NCEI.


The 2021 record beat the previous record set in July 2016, which was tied with 2019 and 2020. 

In July this year, the combined land and ocean surface temperature across the world was 0.93 degrees C above the 20th-century average of 15.8 degrees C. This makes it the hottest July since records began 142 years ago and  0.01 of a degree C higher than the 2016 record.

In the northern hemisphere, the land-surface temperature was the highest ever recorded for July at an unprecedented 1.54 degrees C above average – this surpassed the previous record set in 2012. Asia had its hottest July on record, beating the previous record set in 2010. Europe had its second-hottest July on record, tied with July 2010, and only trailing July 2018. North America, South America, Africa and Oceania all had a top-10 warmest July.

Disturbing and disruptive climate path

NOAA Administrator Rick Spinrad, Ph.D. said “July is typically the world’s warmest month of the year, but July 2021 outdid itself as the hottest July and month ever recorded. This new record adds to the disturbing and disruptive path that climate change has set for the globe.”

In addition to the July record, it is now also increasingly likely that 2021 will rank among the world’s 10 warmest years on record.

Spinrad connected the IPCC report to July’s record adding: “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.”

The IPCC report and July’s temperatures combined a sobering reminder to world leaders ahead of COP26 that action is overdue.

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