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Jul 18, 12:37 PM EDT

First half of 2017 ranks 2nd hottest globally, behind 2016


AP Photo
AP Photo/Rick Bowmer

WASHINGTON (AP) -- The first half of 2017 was the second warmest on record for Earth, only behind last year.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration announced Tuesday Earth's average temperature from January to June was 57.9 degrees (14.4 degrees Celsius). That's 1.6 degrees warmer than the 20th century average.

Natural El Ninos spike global temperatures. But NOAA climate scientist Ahira Sanchez-Lugo says it is remarkable that 2017 without an El Nino so far beats all but the super El Nino year of 2016.

She says that's the world changing into an ever warming climate.

Record warmth was measured in much of Mexico, western Europe, eastern Russia, eastern Africa and eastern China. The U.S. had its second warmest start.

Globally, June was the third warmest on record. Records go back to 1880.

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