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Global average surface temperature anomalies during July 2018, in degrees Celsius. Credit: NASA GISS.

July 2018 was the planet's third-warmest such month since reliable measurements began in 1880, with a global average surface temperature of 1.4°F warmer than the 20th century average — this means the top 3 warmest Julys have occurred in 2016, 2017, and 2018, respectively.

Why this matters: July saw a spate of extreme heat events around the world, from all-time record heat and wildfires in Scandinavia, to the warmest month in California history. The July 2018 ranking, while preliminary, is significant since unlike in 2016, there was no El Niño present to add more heat to the climate system.

The big picture: July's historic temperatures brought heat waves to a large portion of the northern hemisphere and set the stage for deadly and devastating wildfires in California and Sweden, and massive fires have been burning in Siberia as well. All-time national heat records fell in Japan, North and South Korea, Algeria and Taiwan, along with numerous all-time records for individual cities.

The unusually hot conditions in the western U.S., along with the U.K., Scandinavia, parts of Eurasia and southeast Asia are clear from NASA's July temperature anomaly map. Interestingly, much of the Arctic — which is the fastest-warming area on Earth — has been cooler than average this summer, including in July.

What we're watching: Other global temperature monitoring agencies have now weighed in with their rankings, and they differ slightly from NASA's. NOAA, for example, found that July was the fourth-warmest such month on record for the globe, and that the year-to-date is also running in the fourth-warmest spot.

NOAA's temperature report, released Monday, found that July was the hottest such month on record in Scandinavia and the surrounding Arctic Ocean, northwest Africa, parts of southern Asia and southwest United States. Europe had its second-warmest July on record, the report found. "No land or ocean areas had record cold July temperatures," the report said.

According to NOAA's Daily Weather Records Tool, as of July 31, there were 183 stations across the globe that recorded new high maximum temperatures for July, and 232 that set all-time high low temperature records.

There were 69 stations across the globe that set new all-time high maximum temperatures, as well, along with 96 stations that set new all-time high minimum temperatures.

Go deeper:

Go deeper

Updated 12 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Gunman kills 8 people in shooting at FedEx facility in Indianapolis

A screenshot of the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department spokesperson Genae Cook during a news conference Friday morning. Photo: Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department/Facebook

A gunman opened fire at a FedEx warehouse facility in Indianapolis late Thursday, killing at least eight people and wounding multiple others, authorities said.

Details: "The alleged shooter has taken his own life here at the scene," Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department spokesperson Genae Cook said during a news conference early Friday.

Dems race to address, preempt stimulus fraud claims

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Biden officials are working to root out the systematic fraud in unemployment and Paycheck Protection Program claims that plagued the Trump administration’s efforts to boost the economy with coronavirus relief money, Gene Sperling told House committee chairmen privately this week.

Why it matters: President Biden just signed another $1.9 trillion of aid into law, with Sperling tapped to oversee its implementation. And the administration is asking Congress to approve another $2.2 trillion for the first phase of an infrastructure package.

8 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Scoop: Biden close to picking Nick Burns as China ambassador

Nicholas Burns. Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images

Nicholas Burns, a career diplomat, is in the final stages of vetting to serve as President Biden’s ambassador to China, people familiar with the matter tell Axios.

Why it matters: Across the administration, there's a consensus the U.S. relationship with China will be the most critical — and consequential — of Biden's presidency. From trade to Taiwan, the stakes are high. Burns could be among the first batch of diplomatic nominees announced in the coming weeks.