We Just Experienced the Hottest Four Years in Earth's Recent History

Posted January 19, 2018

The upward trend in global temperatures marked by record-shattering warmth in 2015 and 2016 kept pace previous year, with the United Nations weather agency warning Thursday that the continued pressure on the Arctic in 2017 will have "profound and long-lasting repercussions on sea levels, and on weather patterns in other parts of the world". The agencies said the discrepancy in the rankings was the result of different methods that they use to analyze global temperature data, but that overall, their assessments on the state of the global climate are in agreement.

As we noted last year, 2016 was - and remains - the hottest year on record.

"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", NASA's Goddard Institute for Space Studies (GISS) director Gavin Schmidt said in a statement. It is the third straight year in NASA's records temperatures have exceeded 1 degree Celsius higher than the temperatures in the late 19th century.

"In news that should surprise no-one, 2017 was one of the three warmest years on record", Ed Hawkins, a climate scientist at the University of Reading, wrote on Twitter.

The 21st century has so far been a period of the hottest weather, accounting for 17 of the 18 warmest years on record.

The warming trend was clear in both land and sea temperature measurements. "We are in a long-term warming trend". Only 2016 was warmer.

It has been 33 years since the last month that the globe was cooler than normal, according to NOAA.

The globally averaged temperature in 2017 was about 0.46C above the 1981-2010 long-term average (14.3C), according to the UN's meteorologists.

Analysis of global temperatures in 2017.

NOAA also reported that Arctic sea ice extent in 2017 was the second-smallest for an annual average since records started in 1979.

"Global temperatures will continue to bob up and down from year to year, but the climate tide beneath them is rising fast".

"This heat had built up since the 1990s mainly due to greenhouse-gas forcing and possible remote oceanic effects", said the scientists who authored the study from the University of Arizona, Princeton University, GFDL/NOAA and the University of MI.

"The strong 2015/2016 El Nino contributed to the record temperature in 2016".

"We are getting dangerously close to the limit of the 2°C temperature rise set out in the Paris Agreement and the desired goal of 1.5° will be even more hard to maintain under present levels of greenhouse gas emissions", he underscored.