Last month was the second warmest July on record, and so far 2010 remains on track to be the hottest year, a US climate data centre has revealed.
The National Climatic Data Centre said that worldwide, the average temperature in July was 16.5C (61.6F). Only July 1998 was hotter since record-keeping began more than a century ago.
And the January-July period was the warmest first seven months of any year on record, averaging 14.5C (58.1F). In second place was January-July of 1998.
The report comes after a month of worldwide extremes including floods, fires, melting ice and feverish heat.
Atmospheric scientists have grown increasingly concerned about human-induced global warming in recent years, though political pressures and fierce arguments about climate change have slowed efforts to develop solutions.