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

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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.

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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