We suspected it was coming, and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has just confirmed: July 2015 was without a doubt the hottest month in recorded history. Hot damn.
In its monthly State of the Climate Summary report, NOAA confirms that this past July was the hottest month ever since we began keeping meteorological records 136 years ago. The combined average temperature over the global land and ocean surfaces in July was 0.81C above the 20th century average of 15.8C, which bests the previous record set in 1998 by 0.08C. Temperature anomalies across the Earth are summarised in the map below:
Nine of the 10 hottest months on record have occurred since 2005, and the first seven months of 2015 are the hottest January — July span on record. That means 2015 is very well poised to become the hottest year on record as well.
Global averages aside, it's been a summer filled with weird and extreme weather phenomena, including record-smashing heat waves in India and the Middle East, unprecedented wildfires across the Pacific Northwest, and the extraordinarily rapid retreat of Arctic sea ice. And the weirdness shows no sign of slowing down as drought-stricken California prepares for the "Godzilla" El Niño expected to hit later this year.
NOAA has summarised a few of the notable anomalies for us:
All of this is in advance of the Paris climate conference this December, which many experts say is humanity's last opportunity to get its act together and come up with a comprehensive action plan that will prevent catastrophic climate change over the 21st century. If we needed any more reminders that Paris matters a lot, the new report is chock full of evidence that we're pushing our planet in a hot, uncomfortable, and very dangerous direction.
Then again, so were the last 180-ish State of the Climate Summary reports we've had since 2000 — which, by the by, document 13 of the 15 warmest years on record. Apparently, extremes don't really faze us so much these days.
For the extended analysis of the state of Earth's climate, check out NOAA's full report.