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Firefighter in the Sakha Republic of Russia faces one of many massive wildfires burning in the region this summer. (Ivan Nikiforov/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) said Friday that July was the world's hottest month ever recorded, calling it an "unenviable distinction."

What they're saying: "In this case, first place is the worst place to be," NOAA administrator Rick Spinrad said in a statement. "This new record adds to the disturbing and disruptive path that climate change has set for the globe."

The big picture: July featured an extraordinary series of climate change-related disasters, from multiple heat domes that shattered temperature records in North America, Europe and Asia, to devastating wildfires in Siberia, the Mediterranean, and the American West.

Last week, the U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change issued the most comprehensive climate science analysis since 2013, finding that global warming is playing a detectible, growing role in extreme weather and climate events, and noting the world is rapidly nearing the Paris Agreement's temperature target of holding warming to 1.5°C (2.7°F) above preindustrial levels by 2100.

Context: In the IPCC report, scientists analyzed global temperatures starting back to 1850 and used computer models to observe how temperatures would change solely based on natural variability, which they then compared with moderns that incorporate human influences.

  • Overall, the data proved, once again, that climate change is man-made.

By the numbers: The combined land and ocean-surface temperature around the world was 1.67°F above the 20th century average. The NOAA said it was the hottest month since instrument record-keeping began in 1880, 142 years ago.

  • The previous record was set in July 2016, which was then tied in 2019 and 2020, per NOAA.
  • The global land-surface temperature was the highest-ever recorded for July, at an unprecedented 2.77 degrees F (1.54 degrees C) above average, surpassing the previous record set in 2012, per NOAA.
  • Asia saw its hottest July on record, beating the earlier record set in 2010, a year that featured a heat wave that killed tens of thousands. Europe had its second-hottest July — tying with 2010 and trailing behind July 2018.

Go deeper:

Go deeper

Oct 25, 2021 - Axios Denver

Colorado predicted to have a warmer, drier winter

NOAA; Map: Kavya Beheraj/Axios; Data: NOAA; Map: Kavya Beheraj/Axios

The return of La Niña for the second straight year means winter in Colorado will bring warmer temperatures and less precipitation than normal, according to a new forecast by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

Why it matters: Dry conditions have fueled some of Colorado's most devastating wildfires, including last year's East Troublesome blaze, which raged for more than a month and destroyed nearly 194,000 acres.

What the initial UN Climate Summit attendance list reveals

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

The UN Climate Summit set to begin Oct. 31 in Glasgow will bring an unprecedented combination of leaders for such an event (even Pope Francis!), and the likely absence of vital players — notably Chinese President Xi Jinping. 

Why it matters: The speeches and backroom meetings at COP26 between leaders on the summit's first two days will set the tone for the rest of the gathering. These will be moments when countries showcase any new pledges to cut greenhouse gas emissions in order to meet the Paris Agreement's targets.

The High Ambition Coalition's priorities for the Glasgow climate summit

Then-French Foreign Affairs minister Laurent Fabius, right, greets then-Marshall Islands' Foreign Affairs minister Tony de Brum in his office during the Paris climate summit in December 2015. Photo: Martin Bureau/AFP via Getty Images

A coalition to watch at the upcoming Glasgow climate summit is made up of some of the most at-risk countries to climate change that don't traditionally wield much power on the global stage, along with some other nations, like Norway, which have ambitious climate targets.

Why it matters: The power of these countries' moral authority on climate change — their very existence is threatened by sea level rise — helped them play a vital role in securing the Paris Agreement in 2015.