For planet Earth, no other month was as hot as this past July in records that date back to the late 1800s, NOAA says. And the globe is well on its way to having its hottest year on record.

NOAA, NASA and the Japan Meteorological Agency (JMA) have published data that show that it was the hottest July on record. Since July is on average the planet’s hottest month, temperatures this past month likely* reached their highest point in the history of instrumental records. NOAA calculates that  July’s average global temperature of 61.86 degrees was 0.14 degrees warmer than the previous warmest month on record, July 1998.

NASA’s map of July temperatures shows the planet lit up in orange and red, signifying vast areas covered by above-normal warmth.

“The average temperature for Africa was the second highest for July on record, behind only 2002, with regional record warmth across much of eastern Africa into central areas of the continent. Record warmth was also observed across much of northern South America, parts of southern Europe and central Asia, and the far western United States,” NOAA reports.

[Heat records all over: The Northern Hemisphere is in hot water]


July temperature difference from 1951-1980 average (NASA)

NASA’s map also reveals the telltale signature of the powerful El Nino event, portrayed by the much-warmer-than-normal sea surface temperatures in the eastern and central tropical Pacific.

These warm Pacific waters boosted the average global ocean temperature to its warmest level on record during July, 1.35 degrees above normal. That difference from normal is the largest ever recorded in any month for the global ocean, NOAA says.

The heat from El Nino not only manifested itself over the oceans, but also likely elevated temperatures in other areas due to its ripple effects on global weather patterns.

El Nino’s influence on global temperatures dates back many months. The year-to-date average global temperature spanning January to July is the warmest on record, NOAA says, besting the previous record for the same period from 2010 by 0.16 degrees. “Five months this year, including the past three, have been record warm for their respective months,” NOAA says. “January was the second warmest January on record and April third warmest.”


January-July period difference from average global temperature, 1880-2015 (NOAA)

Similarly, every month this year has ranked among the top four warmest in NASA’s analysis, including back-to-back warmest months on record in June and July.

In JMA’s analysis, as in NOAA’s, the last three months (May, June and July) have been the warmest of the year — a year in which five of the seven months in the calendar year so far have ranked among the warmest. (The two other months, February and April, ranked third-warmest.)


Time series of July temperature difference from average (Japan Meteorological Agency)

Considering every month this year has ranked among the top several warmest if not the warmest on record for the planet, it is almost an inevitability that 2015 will be the warmest year on record, beating the record set just the year before (in 2014). Both the “significant and strengthening” El Nino event along with the longer-term warming trend due to rising concentrations of manmade greenhouse gases are taking temperatures to new heights.

* For a technical discussion of why July was likely the hottest month in recorded history, see this post by blogger Tamino: “Hottest Month

(This post, originally published Aug. 17, 2015, was updated Aug. 20).