Across the globe the heat is unrelenting, setting new temperature highs by the month that are unparalleled in 136 years of record-keeping, says the U.S. weather agency.
Last month was the hottest August on record, nearly a degree Celsius higher than the 20th century average of 15.6 degrees Celsius, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).
The agency said the June-to-August average was also the highest dating back to 1880, when records were first kept, and also the highest ever for the first eight months of any year.
Scientists say the high temperatures are the result of a combination of human-caused climate change related to greenhouse gas emissions and a powerful natural El Niño weather system over the Pacific Ocean that adds heat to the atmosphere.
NOAA said the higher temperatures have trimmed the extent of the Arctic ice pack to its fourth smallest size for August since these figures were first collected in 1979.