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NOAA: Warmest Global Ocean Surface Temperatures on Record for July

The planet’s ocean surface temperature was the warmest on record for July, breaking the previous high mark established in 1998 according to an analysis by NOAA’s National Climatic Data Center. The combined average global land and ocean surface temperature for July 2009 ranked fifth-warmest since world-wide records began in 1880.

  • The global ocean surface temperature for July 2009 was the warmest on record, 1.06 °F (0.59 °C) above the 20th century average of 61.5 °F (16.4 °C). This broke the previous July record set in 1998. The July ocean surface temperature departure of 1.06 °F from the long-term average equals last month’s value, which was also a record.
  • The global land surface temperature for July 2009 was 0.92 °F (0.51 °C) above the 20th century average of 57.8 °F (14.3 °C), and tied with 2003 as the ninth-warmest July on record.
  • The combined global land and ocean surface temperature for July 2009 was the fifth warmest on record, at 1.03 °F (0.57 °C) above the 20th century average of 60.4 °F (15.8 °C).

Notable global developments and events for the month included:

  • El Niño persisted across the equatorial Pacific Ocean during July 2009. Related sea-surface temperature (SST) anomalies increased for the sixth consecutive month.
  • Large portions of many continents had substantially warmer-than-average temperatures during July 2009. The greatest departures from the long-term average were evident in Europe, northern Africa, and much of western North America. Broadly, across these regions, temperatures were about 4-7 °F (2-4 °C) above average.
  • Cooler-than-average conditions prevailed across southern South America, central Canada, the eastern United States, and parts of western and eastern Asia. The most notably cool conditions occurred across the eastern US, central Canada, and southern South America where region-wide temperatures were nearly 4-7 °F (2-4 °C) below average.
  • Arctic sea ice covered an average of 3.4 million square miles during July. This is 12.7% below the 1979-2000 average extent and the third-lowest July sea ice extent on record, behind 2007 and 2006. Antarctic sea ice extent in July was 1.5% above the 1979-2000 average. July Arctic sea ice extent has decreased by 6.1% per decade since 1979, while July Antarctic sea ice extent has increased by 0.8% per decade over the same period.

US highlights for July 2009 included:

  • For the contiguous United States the average July temperature of 73.5 °F (23.1 °C) was 0.8 °F (0.4 °F) below the 20th century average and ranked as the 27th coolest July on record, based on preliminary data.
  • Four of the seven states that make up the Central US (Ohio, Illinois, Indiana, and West Virginia) experienced their coolest ever July in 115 years of records. The region’s three remaining states of Kentucky, Missouri, and Tennessee recorded either their second or third coolest July in history. Pennsylvania also experienced a record cool July, while Wisconsin and Michigan each had its second coolest on record.
  • Three western states recorded an average temperature that was much above normal for the month of July: Arizona experienced its third warmest, while New Mexico and Washington each had its ninth warmest July on record. Death Valley, California set its all-time monthly average maximum temperature of 121.3 °F (49.6 °C). Twenty-two days in Death Valley reached 120 °F (48.9 °C)or higher which beat the old record of 19 days.
  • This was the 40th wettest July in the 1895—2009 record. Precipitation across the contiguous US averaged 2.90 inches (74 mm), which is 0.14 inch (4 mm) above the 1901-2000 average.
  • For the contiguous US as a whole, precipitation was near normal. The above normal averages in the Central and Northeast were counter-balanced by the below normal averages in the Southeast, Southwest, and East North Central regions.
  • Massachusetts and Rhode Island both experienced their second and Arkansas its third wettest July on record. Several other states were much above normal including: Maine which experienced its fifth wettest, and Vermont, New Hampshire, and Connecticut each recorded their sixth wettest month.
  • Based on the Palmer Drought Index, severe to extreme drought affected about 11% of the contiguous United States as of the end of July 2009, an increase of about 5% from last month. About 17% of the contiguous US fell in the severely to extremely wet categories. About 19% of the contiguous US fell in the moderate to extreme drought categories (based on the Palmer Drought Index) at the end of July.


  • State of the Climate. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration National Climatic Data Center Monthly Reports


Roger Pham

So much for the global cooling hoax!

Praise be to Al Gore, and Pray to the Lord!...Save us from the impending calamity and deliver us [away] from evil!


Roger, Roger, you obviously never heard of the urban heat island...


UHI is a local effect, there is no evidence that it biases trends in historical temperature records.

However, summer 2009 may establish hot temperature records on the west coast and the opposite for the east coast.

Any logical reasons for this wide disparity?



Any logical reasons for this wide disparity?

El Niño accounts for the warmer than average high temperatures on the west coast. I don't know about the cooler than average for the east coast.

Roger Pham

Hi Anne,
Sorry, the Urban Heat Island Effect must have driven me nuts! The Goracle must be living in the rural east coast this year to have observed a global cooling effect.
Pray tell more about the UHI...



Have you not read the works of great wisdom revealed to us by his greatness the Shepherd of all Urban Heat Islands? How come you don't know the sacred writings of our Great Leader and Defender of The Real Science?

All blessed knowledge of Urban Heat Islands has been given to us through the majestic works works of Anthony Watts. Subject yourself to his teachings and all Truth will be revealed.

Roger Pham

Thanks, Anne, for the education.
Indeed, "how not to measure temperature," according to the following link:

I just hope that His Greatness Watts Wisdom will soon touch the issue of Ocean Temperature!



Any logical reasons for this wide disparity?

This has been the result of anomalous upper flow ("jet stream" configuration). The upper flow this year has been anomalously amplified for this time of the year (summer) with a trough persisting over the northeast/upper Midwest and an upper ridge persisting over much of the western CONUS. Upper flow in summer is typically very weak and nearly zonal, at least over the U.S.

The upper flow pattern has become somewhat more progressive over the past week or two, but still unusually amplified for this time of year.

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