July 2019 was the hottest July and the hottest month on record globally since temperature records began in a year of a number of record breaking temperatures as heatwaves hit many parts of the world.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration announced the figures Thursday, confirming that worldwide, July was 1.71 degrees Fahrenheit (.95 degrees Celsius) warmer than the average of 56.9 degrees Fahrenheit. The record-setting July follows the hottest June on record, rising .71 degrees Fahrenheit (0.95 Celsius) above the average temperature for that month.
Regions across the world experienced record-breaking temperatures; the continent of Africa experienced its hottest month on record, and countries across Europe – including France, Belgium, Germany, Netherlands, and Luxembourg – experienced the hottest days in their nations’ history.
Announcing the figures, Deke Arndt of NOAA said that while several factors had contributed to the unusual July heat, including normal variability in the climate, the reason the Earth is breaking so many temperature records is “almost entirely due to climate change.” This year is also on track to be one of the top five warmest years on record, according to NOAA.
Comparing the temperatures on land and ocean, Arndt said that the land temperature was the second hottest on record, measured at 2.1 degrees Fahrenheit warmer than the average for July, while the ocean was the warmest on record for July, at around 1.5 degree Fahrenheit warmer than the 20th century average.
— NOAA (@NOAA) August 15, 2019
The hot temperatures had a particularly grave impact on sea ice. The average sea ice on the Arctic was at a record low, dropping to 19.8% below average- breaking the previous historic low set in July 2012.
Michael Allen, a climate scientist at Old Dominion University, tells TIME that while July was troublingly hot, it’s important to recognize that it’s part of a longterm pattern.
“Talking about July 2019 without the context of ’18, ’17, ’16, and the last 100 years- it’s kind of missing the beef,” Allen says. “July 2019 was warm, it was the warmest year on record for many places, but it’s just another data point in a longterm trend of warming due to greenhouse gas emissions.”
According to NOAA, last month was the 43rd July – and the 415th consecutive month – that was warmer than its 20th century average.