This July was the fourth-hottest July on record, and 2014 so far is tied for the third-hottest January-July period on record, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).
The rankings, which take into account average temperatures on land and ocean surfaces across the globe, come after a string of heat records from this spring and summer. NOAA ranked June 2014 as the hottest June on record, with especially high ocean temperatures adding to the overall global heat, and May 2014 also ranked as the hottest May on record — the 39th consecutive May with warmer than average temperatures.
The Eastern half of the U.S. experienced lower-than-average temperatures this July, but the Western U.S. — along with much of the rest of the globe, was hotter than average. Warm temperatures in the Western U.S. combined with major drought in some places — California is in the midst of an extreme drought right now, and overall, the drought in the Western U.S. cost the U.S. $4 billion from January to May 2014.
Overall, July temperatures were 1.15°F above average for the globe. For comparison, the hottest July on record, which according to NOAA’s measurements occurred in 1998, had temperatures that were 1.31°F higher than average.
“Overall, 32 countries across every continent except Antarctica had at least one station reporting a record high temperature for July,” NOAA writes. “The United States and the Russian Federation each had several stations that reported record warm temperatures as well as several stations with record cold temperatures for the month. No other countries had stations that reported a record cold July temperature.”
This April also tied for the hottest April on record, with warm temperatures that are becoming common — according to NOAA, the last time the earth experienced a cooler-than-usual April was 1976. This April was also the first month in recorded history with carbon dioxide levels above 400 ppm. May and June continued that trend, with both months
This spring overall has also broken records — according to the Japan Meteorological Agency, this March-May period was the warmest ever recorded.
NOAA isn’t the only agency taking measurements of global temperatures, however, and rankings differ slightly from agency to agency. NASA’s temperature data ranked July 2014 as the 11th hottest on record, rather than the 4th.