July 2019 temperatures were the hottest ever recorded globally, the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) said Thursday, while satellite data showed polar ice shrank to its lowest levels.
According to the NOAA, the average global temperature for the month was 0.95 degrees Celsius (1.71 degrees Fahrenheit) above the 20th century average of 15.8 degrees Celsius (60.4 Fahrenheit), making it the hottest July in its records, which go back to 1880.
“Much of the planet sweltered in unprecedented heat in July, as temperatures soared to new heights in the hottest month ever recorded. The record warmth also shrank Arctic and Antarctic sea ice to historic lows,” the agency said.
The findings confirmed data released by the EU’s Copernicus Climate Change Service on August 5, though the margin of the new record compared to the last, in July 2016, was greater according to the US data.
Searing heat waves saw records tumble across Europe last month, while in the US, nearly 150 million people struggled to stay cool from the Midwestern plains to the Atlantic coast and local media reported at least six deaths.
The new high is all the more notable because the previous followed a strong El Nino, which boosts average global temperatures beyond the impact of global warming alone.
El Ninos are naturally occurring weather events triggered by periodic warming — every three to seven years — in the eastern Pacific Ocean.