July was Earth’s hottest month ever recorded, ‘‘on a par with, and possibly marginally higher’’ than the previous warmest month, which was July 2016, according to provisional data from the Copernicus Climate Change Service.
The European climate agency will have a full report for all of July on Monday, but a spokesperson said enough data (through July 29) has already come in to make the declaration.
The monthly global average temperature anomaly was 2.16 degrees (1.2 Celsius) above preindustrial levels, the center reported in its preliminary figures Friday.
On Thursday, United Nations Secretary General António Guterres cited the data at a news conference as an example of why more ambitious action to cut planet-warming greenhouse gases is needed.
Through the Paris Climate Agreement, world leaders have committed to preventing the globe from warming more than 3.6 degrees (2 Celsius), and are trying to keep global warming even more limited, to 2.4 degrees (1.5 Celsius), relative to preindustrial levels.
July’s numbers clearly indicate that the planet is already lapping up against the lower threshold. It also means the world is headed for a top-three warmest year, up from a top-five warmest ranking earlier in the year. The period from 2015 to 2019 will go down in history as the warmest five-year period on record since the late 19th century, and very likely well before that.
The temperature spike was driven largely by record warmth in Western Europe, noteworthy warmth stretching across the Arctic that culminated in one of the most significant melt events ever recorded in Greenland at the end of the month.
During the entire month of July, the Greenland ice sheet poured 197 billion tons of water into the North Atlantic in July alone, enough to raise global sea levels by 0.5 millimeters, or 0.2 inches.
Noteworthy extreme weather events during July include a widespread heat wave in Western Europe that set national temperature records in Britain, Germany, the Netherlands, and Belgium. Paris soared to its highest temperature ever recorded, 108.7 degrees (42.6 Celsius).