Past Three Years Hottest on Record

2016 was the hottest year, but 2017 was not far behind. A look at average world temperatures since 2010 reveals that the trend of global warming continues.

Jan. 25, 2018
By Isabel Putinja

Recent News

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.- Gavin Schmidt, Goddard Institute for Space Studies

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. 

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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. 


© Olive Oil Times | Data source: National Aeronautics and Space Administration


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.





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