2017 was among warmest years on record

This NASA map shows Earth’s average temperatures, 2013- 2017.
This NASA map shows Earth’s average temperatures, 2013- 2017.
Image: NASA.
The fact that 2017 was another hot year is not in question. But just how hot is open for debate.

    In records kept by NASA, global surface temperatures ranked 2017 as the second-warmest since 1880. At the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, or NOAA, researchers concluded that it was the third-warmest year on record.
    Either way, it was hot. More Arctic sea ice was lost. And the announcement comes six months after President Donald Trump’s decision to pull out of the Paris climate accord, an agreement among world nations to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and lessen the impact of climate change. Trump argued the agreement would have dire effects on the economy.
    Temperatures in 2017 were 1.62 degrees Fahrenheit warmer than the 1951 to 1980 mean, a NASA news release explains. That is second only to global temperatures set in 2016.
    While NOAA’s records are slightly different, the two agencies agree that the five warmest years on record all have taken place since 2010. The news release pointed out that the temperature change is driven “largely by increased carbon dioxide and other human-made emissions into the atmosphere.”
    At the end of 2017, a La Nina weather pattern cooled temperatures. (La Nina is a “natural ocean-atmospheric phenomenon marked by cooler-than-average sea surface temperatures in the central Pacific Ocean near the equator,” according to NOAA. For more, see our story here.) 
    La Nina and the opposite pattern -- El Nino -- contribute to short-term temperature fluctuations. But NASA pointed out that one analysis removed the effects of El Nino and La Nina patterns, and with those taken out, 2017 would have been the warmest year on record.


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