2017 was 2nd warmest in 137 years, NASA says

In this Wednesday, Dec. 27, 2017 file photo, a man walks his dog across the snow-covered beach while a cargo ship sits in the steaming fog of Lake Ontario in Toronto. The Canadian Press /Frank Gunn

The Earth’s global temperature in 2017 was the second warmest since 1880, according to NASA analysis.

The space agency announced Thursday the planet continued a warming trend and temperatures were 0.9 C warmer last year than the 1951 to 1980 average, making it the second warmest year. Only 2016 was warmer.

In a separate analysis, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) found 2017 was the third-warmest year on record. NASA noted that the slight difference between NOAA’s analysis and their own is a result of slightly different methods used between the two agencies to interpret the temperature data.

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However, NASA said both analyses are in agreement, showing that the five hottest years on record have all occurred since 2010.

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“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,” Goddard Institute for Space Studies director Gavin Schmidt said in a statement.

Map shows Earth’s average global temperature from 2013 to 2017, as compared to a baseline average from 1951 to 1980, according to an analysis by NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies. Yellows, oranges, and reds show regions warmer than the baseline. NASA/Handout

The United Nations also announced Thursday that 2017 was the second or third warmest on record behind 2016, and the hottest without an extra dose of heat caused by an El Niño event in the Pacific Ocean.

Average surface temperatures in 2017 were 1.1 C above pre-industrial times, creeping towards a 1.5 C ceiling set as the limit for global warming by almost 200 nations under the 2015 Paris climate agreement.

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Last year was indistinguishable, so far, from 2015 as the second or third warmest behind 2016, making 2017 “the warmest year without an El Niño,” the UN’s World Meteorological Organization (WMO) said.

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Temperatures in both 2016 and 2015 were lifted by El Niño, a natural event which can disrupt weather patterns worldwide every few years and releases heat from the Pacific Ocean into the atmosphere.

NASA echoed the UN’s finding that if the effects of the recent El Niño and La Niña patterns were removed from the data analysis, 2017 would have been the warmest year to date.

–with files from Reuters

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