Science

2017 was globe's warmest year without an El Nino

2017 was globe's warmest year without an El Nino

2017 was the second-hottest year ever recorded, according to a new NASA report.

"Basically, all of the warming in the last 60 years is attributable to human activities", said Gavin Schmidt, director of NASA's Goddard Institute for Space Studies in NY.

Among extreme weather events past year, the Caribbean and the United States suffered a battering from hurricanes, the Arctic ended 2017 with the least sea ice for mid-winter and tropical coral reefs suffered from high water temperatures.

NASA's Goddard Institute for Space Studies (GISS) said 2017 was the second-hottest year in their database, which extends back to 1880. The warming is most pronounced in the Arctic, where the loss of sea ice continues.

"2015, '16 and '17 now represent the three warmest years on our record", said Derek Arndt, monitoring branch chief with NOAA's National Centers for Environmental Information. NOAA said the temperature was 1.51 degrees above the 20th-century average.

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Temperatures in both 2016 and 2015 were lifted by an El Nino, a natural event which can disrupt weather patterns worldwide every few years and releases heat from the Pacific Ocean into the atmosphere. But the first third of it experienced an El Niño effect flowing in from 2015, which messed with weather patterns and caused global average temperature to fluctuate.

The globe hasn't had a cooler-than-average year since 1976 - a stretch of 41 consecutive warm years - NOAA said.

"Seventeen of the 18 warmest years on record have all been during this century, and the degree of warming during the past three years has been exceptional". Pockets of record warmth were observed in North America, South America, Africa, Europe, Asia and Australia.

A gathering of scientists at the University of Alabama-Huntsville who also track tropospheric temperatures by satellite instead put 2017 at 3rd place, rather than 2nd, behind 1998.

"This year governments are due to start the process of assessing the size of the gap between their collective ambitions for reducing greenhouse gas emissions and the goals of the Paris Agreement", said Bob Ward, policy and communications director at the Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment at the London School of Economics and Political Science, in a statement.