The past three years have topped world temperature records – a trend that clearly indicates that the planet is getting increasingly hotter.
2017 was one of the hottest years on record, according to figures released by NASA and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).
Temperatures over the planet as a whole continue the rapid warming trend we’ve seen over the last 40 years.
NASA reported that 2017 was only slightly cooler than 2016 and comes in second place as the hottest year on record. It revealed that temperatures were 1.62°F (0.90°C) warmer than the 1951 to 1980 average. But according to NOAA, 2017 was only 1.51°F (0.84°C) higher than this average, putting it in third place behind 2015.
“Despite colder than average temperatures in any one part of the world, temperatures over the planet as a whole continue the rapid warming trend we’ve seen over the last 40 years,” confirmed Gavin Schmidt, director of NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies (GISS) in a January 18 press release.
Each agency has been independently monitoring temperature records since 1880 according to different methods of analysis, hence the slight variation in rankings. But both agencies agree that the hottest year on record was 2016 and, since 2010, the earth has experienced five of its hottest years.
El Niño is blamed for the record temperatures experienced in 2016 which causes sea water in the Pacific Ocean to warm up. La Niña has the opposite effect and was identified as the reason why, in the latter half of 2017, temperatures were slightly cooler compared to previous years.
Unlike NOAA, NASA includes data from the Arctic in its analysis which has revealed that the Arctic is warming up with each passing year and sea ice is melting as a consequence.
Equally alarming is the fact that 2017 was the third consecutive year that the earth’s average temperature was a little more than 1°C above temperatures of the past century. The 2016 Paris Climate Agreement has a target to limit this temperature rise to a maximum of 1.5°C compared to pre-industrial levels.
The fact that the past three years have been the earth’s hottest is a strong indicator that the trend of global warming continues. This is attributed to rising carbon dioxide emissions and other human-made emissions being released into the atmosphere. As a result, this phenomenon negatively affects agricultural productivity and provokes extreme weather conditions, including an increased risk of drought and wildfires.
Some examples of adverse weather conditions experienced across the world in 2017 included drought across southern Europe, torrential rain in South Asia, above average hurricane activity in the Atlantic, and heat waves in South America.