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NOAA: July hottest month on record, and 2015 could be hottest year

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If you felt the heat this past July, you are hardly alone.

July saw the highest average temperatures since record-keeping began -- globally, not just in the United States -- the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration reported Thursday.

Globally, the first seven months of the year also had all-time highs. The latest global temperature data make it likely that 2015 will be the hottest year on record, the agency said.

NOAA's findings follow reports by NASA and the Japan Meteorological Agency, which reached the same conclusion using their own data.

Thursday's report "is reaffirming what we already know," NOAA climate scientist Jake Crouch said. "The world is warming. It's continuing to warm."

Data from NOAA dates back to 1880, but it is possible that July was the hottest month in at least 4,000 years. Climate research suggests these are the hottest temperatures the Earth has seen since the Bronze Age.

The prediction for 2015 becoming the hottest year on record is based on observed temperatures so far, plus the coming El Niño event.

NOAA predicts that a strong El Niño is building, one that could rival the intensity of the record 1997 event that influenced weather-related havoc across the globe, from mudslides in California to fires in Australia.

"There is a greater than 90% chance that El Niño will continue through Northern Hemisphere winter 2015-16, and around an 85% chance it will last into early spring 2016," NOAA said in a statement.

The temperatures

What made July the hottest month on record?

According to NOAA, the average global temperatures in July were 1.46 degrees Fahrenheit warmer than the 20th Century average. This measurement includes land and ocean temperatures.

Breaking it down, the land temperature globally was 1.73 degrees Fahrenheit higher than average, making it the sixth warmest July on land. On the water, ocean temperatures were 1.35 degrees Fahrenheit higher, making it the warmest monthly ocean temperature on record.

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