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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

Biden speaks with Macron for first time since diplomatic crisis

President Biden and French President Emmanuel Macron have a conversation ahead of the NATO summit in Brussels, on June 14, 2021. Photo: Dursun Aydemir/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

President Biden on Wednesday spoke with French President Emmanuel Macron for the first time since a diplomatic row erupted over a scrapped submarine order, per the White House.

Driving the news: Macron said that the French ambassador will return to Washington next week and will resume working with senior U.S. officials.

2 hours ago - World

Scoop: U.S. and Israel held secret talks on Iran "plan B"

Bennett and Biden. Photo: Sarahbeth Maney/Pool/Getty Images

The U.S. and Israel held secret talks on Iran last week to discuss a possible “plan B” if nuclear talks are not resumed, two senior Israeli officials tell me.

Why it matters: This is the first time a top-secret U.S.-Israel strategic working group on Iran has convened since the new Israeli government took office in June.

2 hours ago - World

Scoop: Jake Sullivan plans to visit Saudi Arabia, Egypt and UAE next week

Sullivan. Photo: Yasin Ozturk/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

White House National Security adviser Jake Sullivan is planning to travel to the Middle East next week, including a stop in Saudi Arabia. He would be the most senior Biden administration official to visit the kingdom.

Why it matters: Sullivan's first trip to the region since taking office is expected to include stops in Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Egypt, sources briefed on the plans tell Axios. All three countries are longtime U.S. partners who have faced some early tensions with Biden.