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Expand chart
Data: NASA GISS; Graphic: Harry Stevens/Axios

The world's top 5 warmest years on record have occurred since 2014 — and it's almost certain that 2019 will be added to this list as well.

Why it matters: Such trends are indicative of long-term global warming due to human activities such as burning fossil fuels for energy and transportation, cutting down forests for agriculture and other purposes. Only 1 of the top 20 warmest years on record since instrument data began in 1880 took place before the year 2000. With greenhouse gas concentrations in the air at their highest level in 3 million years, the odds favor more record-shattering years in the future.

Many countries have been setting new milestones for monthly record warmth, as is the world at large. Here are some of 2019's noteworthy temperature records:

Monthly rankings

Monthly temperature records are based on estimates from a number of different organizations, including NOAA and NASA.

  • January: Third-warmest January, per NOAA
  • February: Fifth-warmest February, per NOAA
  • March: Third-warmest March
    • NOAA and Europe's Copernicus Climate Service ranked March as the 2nd-warmest on record, while NASA and the Japan Meteorological Agency ranked the month slightly lower as the 3rd-warmest March on record.
  • April: Second-warmest April
    • April saw a global temperature anomaly of 0.99ºC, or 1.8ºF, above the 20th century average, per NASA.
  • July: Passed August 2016 at the hottest-ever month on record by 0.14ºF, according to the NOAA and Europe's Copernicus Climate Service.
National records

Aside from global trends, some individual continents and countries are setting records of their own. Here are a few national records that have been broken this year, some of which still need to be verified in order to officially enter the record books:

  • Angola saw its hottest temperature ever measured for any month in February.
  • Australia shattered its record for the hottest summer ever, propelling its national average temperature to a new all-time high.
    • January had an average temperature that was 5.2°F (2.91°C) above the 1961–1990 average — the first time any month has topped 86°F (30°C), nationally.
  • Belgium broke its all-time record at 40.6°C (105°F) on July 25.
  • France saw its hottest June day on June 26 with an average high of 94.8°F (34.8°C).
    • France also broke its all-time record of 44.1°C (111.4°F) on June 28 as the temperature rose to 44.3°C (111.7°F) in Carpentras.
  • Germany broke its record of 41.5°C (106.7°F) on July 25, according to the German Weather Service, and reported by DPA News.
  • Kenya saw its highest April temperature on April 20 in Mandera, which hit 41.6ºC (106.88ºF).
  • The Netherlands broke its all-time record on July 25 at 4o.4°C (104.7°F).
  • Poland and Germany each set a new respective June temperature record.
  • Russia set its hottest May temperature on record in Yelabuga at 32.9ºC (91.22ºF) on May 13.
  • Vietnam broke its record for hottest May temperature on May 20 at 42.8ºC (109.04ºF) in Con Cuông.

Go deeper:

Go deeper

Dave Lawler, author of World
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