NASA: Last month was Earth's hottest in recorded history

WASHINGTON — Earth just broiled to its hottest month in recorded history, according to NASA.

Even after the fading of a strong El Nino, which spikes global temperatures on top of man-made climate change, July burst global temperature records.

NASA calculated that July 2016 was 1.51 degrees Fahrenheit (0.84 degrees Celsius) warmer than the 1950-1980 global average. That's clearly hotter than the previous hotter months, about 0.18 degrees warmer than the previous record of July 2011 and July 2015, which were so close they were said to be in a tie for the hottest month on record, said NASA chief climate scientist Gavin Schmidt.

Scientists blame mostly man-made climate change from the burning of fossil fuel with an extra jump from the now-gone El Nino , which every few years is a natural warming of parts of the Pacific Ocean that changes weather worldwide.

Georgia Tech climate scientist Kim Cobb said this is significant "because global temperatures continue to warm even as a record-breaking El Nino event has finally released its grip."

NASA's five hottest months on record are July 2016, July 2011, July 2015, July 2009 and August 2014. Only July 2015 was during an El Nino. Records go back to 1880.

This is the 10th record hot month in a row, according to NASA. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, which calculates temperatures slightly differently, will come out with its July figures on Wednesday. NOAA has figured there have been 14 monthly heat records broken in a row, before July.

"The scary thing is that we are moving into an era where it will be a surprise when each new month or year isn't one of the hottest on record," said Chris Field, a climate scientist at the Carnegie Institution and Stanford University.

This new record and all the records that have been broken recently years tell one cohesive story, said Schmidt, director of NASA's Goddard Institute for Space Studies: "The planet is getting warmer. It's important for what it tells us about the future."

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Follow Seth Borenstein at http://twitter.com/borenbears and his work can be found at http://bigstory.ap.org/content/seth-borenstein

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