New Climate Data Shows July was 7th-Hottest on Record Globally

Polar bear at the Maryland Zoo, July 2011 (via Flickr's Michael Bentley)

New data confirms what you already knew – July was incredibly hot, one of the warmest on record.

The U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s National Climatic Data Center just released its recap of July 2011. Here are some of the highlights:

  • Persistent, scorching heat in the central and eastern United States during July 2011 contributed to the nation’s fourth-warmest July on record.
  • The combined global land and ocean average surface temperature for July 2011 was the seventh warmest on record, at 16.37°C (61.43°F), which is 0.57°C (1.03°F) above the 20th century average of 15.8°C (60.4°F).
  • For the year-to-date, the global combined land and ocean surface temperature of 14.31°C (57.82°F) was the 11th warmest January–July period on record. This value is 0.51°C (0.92°F) above the 20th century average.
  • The average Arctic sea ice extent during July was 21.6 percent below average, ranking as the smallest July extent since satellite records began in 1979. The extent was 81,000 square miles (210,000 square kilometers) below the previous July record low, set in 2007.

We’ve had another unusually warm month and are on the way to another unusually hot year, but the reality is that these conditions are the new normals that we all need to get used to,” said Dr. Amanda Staudt, climate scientist with the National Wildlife Federation.

Here’s one example of our new normal: We’re on pace for the 35th consecutive year with global temperatures above the 20th century average. That means your humble blogger has never been alive in a year with global temperatures at or below the 20th century average.

You can get more details at the NOAA NCDC State of the Climate page, including this map of July extreme weather events. To read Dr. Staudt’s reports on the connection between climate change and extreme weather, visit

The new data comes on the same day that Politifact looked into the climate science consensus, reporting that while some politicians may find it to be an inconvenient truth, “there is significant scientific consensus that human beings are contributing to global warming.”