Climate Change

Global temperature soars to record highs on July 4

Decades of data shows the Earth had its hottest day ever recorded on Tuesday amid a year of record heat.

Photo illustration of a thermometer under a hot sun.

The average global air temperature exceeded 17 degrees Celsius (62.6 degrees Fahrenheit) for the first time in recorded history, according to National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration data. 

The average global air temperature reached 17.01 degrees Celsius, or 62.61 Fahrenheit, on Monday, only to be followed by temperatures hitting 62.94 degrees Fahrenheit on Tuesday. The data dates back to 1979.

The Northern Hemisphere is also experiencing its hottest recorded temperatures for early July. The average air temperature in the Northern Hemisphere set a daily record of 71.25 degrees Fahrenheit on Tuesday, 1.71 degrees above the average temperature from 1981 to 2000.

Earlier this year, global sea surface temperatures set a record in nearly 40 years of monitoring. It was measured at 69.98 degrees Fahrenheit in early April. 

The global sea surface temperatures remain exceptionally warm for the time of year, holding at 69.6 degrees as of Tuesday. 

Experts say the combination of climate change and a subsiding La Niña pattern is contributing to the record warmth. 

Meteorologist quits due to death threat after climate change reporting
Meteorologist quits due to death threat after climate change reporting

Meteorologist quits due to death threat after climate change reporting

Meteorologist Chris Gloninger spent the last two years at KCCI in Des Moines, Iowa.


The rise in sea surface temperatures can be directly attributed to higher levels of greenhouse gas, NOAA senior scientist Michael McPhaden previously told Scripps News. Greenhouse gases come from the burning of fossil fuels like gasoline for cars or coal for electricity. 

"The fact is we have the data and we have the physical understanding of how the climate system works, that this correlation, that this connection between rising greenhouse gases and rising global temperatures is real," McPhaden said. 

McPhaden noted a United Nations report issued earlier this year indicating that humans are losing progress in the fight against climate change, and urged nations to reduce carbon emissions. 

"The planet is primed for more records," McPhaden said. "And, you know, if we get a big El Niño growth, we're going to be off the charts again in terms of global mean surface temperatures."

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change called efforts over the last five years to reduce emissions "insufficient." The tone of the report was dour, suggesting that mankind needs to adapt to climate change. 

The report called for limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels.