According to a global analysis from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), last month was not only the hottest July on record, it was also the hottest month since record-keeping began in 1880.
This news follows an early prediction that 2015 would be even hotter than last year’s record-breaking heat, and marks the fifth time in 2015 that a month has smashed previous temperature records. Across the planet, the average temperatures recorded in February, March, May and June have all reached unprecedented heights. The remaining months have also been abnormally high, with January the second warmest on record and April the third warmest.
According to NOAA, combined average temperature over global land and ocean surfaces for July 2015 was 0.81°C (1.46°F) above the 20th century average of 15.8°C (60.4°F). This tops the previous record set in 1998.
“As July is climatologically the warmest month of the year globally,” the agency adds, “this monthly global temperature of 16.61°C (61.86°F) was also the highest among all 1,627 months in the record that began in January 1880.”
Even discounting the warming ocean temperatures (which are rising so quickly they’re “breaking scientists’ charts”), this month would still be among the planet’s most blistering. Land surface temperatures alone were high enough (0.96°C above the 20th century average) to make July 2015 the sixth warmest on record.
Yet ocean warming is contributing significantly to the Earth’s overall thermal activity. Ten of the hottest months for sea surface temperatures have occurred since April 2014.
New heat records were set in parts of South America, Southern Europe, Central Asia and the Western United States. According to the analysis, Austria recorded its hottest July since its national records began in 1767 and, in the Middle East, a “high pressure dome…brought what may be one of the most extreme heat indices ever recorded in the world.” Air temperatures of 46°C (115°F) in the city of Bandar Mahshahr combined with a dew point of 32°C (90°F) for a heat index on 74°C (165°F).
That’s not quite the record though. The highest known heat index occurred in Dhahran, Saudi Arabia in July 2003, when it reached 81°C (178°F).