August 2012 was fourth hottest in over a century

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(LiveScience) Last month was the globe's fourth hottest August since record keeping began in 1880, according to the National Climatic Data Center.

The planet's average August temperature was 61.22 degrees F (16.22 degrees C) this year, which is 1.12 degrees F (0.62 degrees C) above the 20th-century average, according to the climate officials' report.

Last month's temperatures were higher than average in most places around the world, but notably scorching in the United States, eastern Canada, central and southern Europe, and east central Asia. The extent of Arctic sea ice also hit a record low in August, falling to 1.58 million square miles (4.10 million square kilometers), surpassing the previous low, set in September 2007.

August marked the 330th month in a row with a global temperature above the 20th-century average. February 1985 was the last month with a below-average global temperature.

The National Climatic Data Center noted that the El Niño warm ocean phase will likely develop during September, bumping tropical Pacific water temperatures higher than normal. For the United States, that could mean a warmer and drier than average winter for northern regions, while the Southwest and Southeast might see more rain than usual.

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