NOAA: July was fourth-hottest on record worldwide

July’s combined average temperature over global land and oceans was 61.52°F, which is 1.12°F above the 20th century average, according to NOAA, which notes that global temperature records date back to 1880.

The warm temperatures helped place the first seven months of 2012 into the top 10 warmest January-July stretches on record.

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“The combined global land and ocean average surface temperature for the January-July period was 0.95°F (0.53°C) above the 20th century average of 56.9°F (13.8°C), tying with 2001 as the 10th warmest such period on record,” NOAA reported.

Last month was record-breaking the in the United States specifically — it was the single hottest month on record in the contiguous 48 states as record heatwaves gripped many regions.

Many scientists say that while individual weather events can’t be laid at the feet of climate change, more extreme heatwaves, drought and other extreme weather is expected in a warming world.

And some experts are now dispensing with the caveat about specific weather events.

James Hansen, director of NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies, and his colleagues published a new paper that claims heatwaves and droughts in recent years are the direct result of climate change.

Hansen argues that the major European heat wave of 2003, the brutal Russian heat wave of 2010 and droughts in Texas and Oklahoma last year can be attributed to climate change. Forthcoming data will likely reveal the same cause for this year’s record-breaking summer heat, according to Hansen.