NASA

2017 Is Officially Among The Top Three Warmest Years on Record

It's getting hot in here. 

SCIENCE AF STAFF
18 JAN 2018
 

Welcome to 2018! Now let's talk about last year.

In 2017, the average global temperature was the third highest since scientists began keeping a record in 1880, according to a recent NOAA analysis.

 

But what about the month President Trump tweeted this?

According to the new report, that was the fourth warmest December in the entire 138-year record.

The summary was released as part of NOAA's climate service's to provide government, business, academia and the public with the support to make informed decisions - like not tweeting that climate change is a hoax.

Traditionally, NOAA and NASA have released their global temperature analyses at the same time. This year, in a separate analysis of global temperature data, NASA scientists ranked 2017 to be the second warmest on record, just behind 2016.

Far from being a discrepancy in data, the difference in rankings is due to varying methods, although over the long-term the two agencies' records remain in strong agreement.

For instance, both reports agree the five warmest years on record have all taken place since 2010.

"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," said GISS Director Gavin Schmidt.

Yet despite the obvious trend, the Trump administration has removed climate change as a national security threat and has attempted to roll back several Obama-era regulations that seek to combat climate change, like the Clean Power Plan.

 

Let's not forget the administration has also withdrawn the U.S. from the Paris climate agreement.

The NOAA analysis gave 2017 an average temperature of 1.51 degrees Fahrenheit (0.84 degrees Celsius) above the average temperature seen in the 20th century.

Whereas NASA calculated 2017 was 1.6 degrees Fahrenheit (0.9 degrees Celsius) above the average temperature from 1951 through 1980.

Previous to 2017, NOAA and NASA agreed on the rankings for 2014, 2015 and 2016.

"The annual change from year to year can bounce up and down. There is year to year variability, but the long term trends are very clear," said Deke Arndt, who heads the global monitoring branch at NOAA's National Centers for Environmental Information.

In a combined briefing on Thursday, NASA and NOAA scientists presented the following slide to show the consistent warming trend throughout El Nino and La Nina fluctuations.

Screen Shot 2018 01 18 at 11.17.16 amNASA/NOAA

Importantly, the NOAA study also found the amount of heat being stored in the ocean was at its highest on record last year.

"Record high sea surface temperatures were observed across parts of the western and central Pacific Ocean, western and northern Indian Ocean, and northern and southern parts of the Atlantic Ocean. No ocean areas were record cold for the year," NOAA reported.

 

The trend is worrisome because warmer oceans have a great impact on weather patterns, which can cause more powerful tropical storms, like Hurricane Maria, the worst natural disaster on record in Dominica and Puerto Rico.

"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.

"The record temperature should focus the minds of world leaders, including President Trump, on the scale and urgency of the risks that people, rich and poor, face around the world from climate change."

Yet President Trump has stacked his administration with climate deniers who do not accept basic science, like head of the Environmental Protection Agency Scott Pruitt .

"Denial of basic science is disqualifying for any candidate for office, especially following a year in which lives were lost and billions of taxpayer dollars will be spent recovering from disasters made worse by climate chang," said Shaugnessy Naughton, founder of the organization 314 Action, which is dedicated to electing more scientists and pro-science candidates to office.

"The trend of silencing scientists who speak out against this Administration's agenda must stop, and our endorsed candidates are committed to doing just that. We can no longer afford to leave science out of the debate."