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2017 Among Warmest Years On Record

This past year, 2017, was among the warmest years on record, according to new data released by NASA and the National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration.

The planet's global surface temperature last year was the second highest since 1880, NASA says. NOAA calls it the third warmest year on record, because of slight variations in the ways that they analyze temperatures.

Both put 2017 behind 2016's record temperatures. And "both analyses show that the five warmest years on record have all taken place since 2010," NASA said in a press release.

The trend is seen most dramatically in the Arctic, NASA says, as sea ice continues to melt.

"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 Gavin Schmidt, the director of NASA's Goddard Institute for Space Studies.

In NASA's rankings, 2016 was the warmest ever. But it adds that 2016's temperatures were heightened by an El Niño event. "In an analysis where the effects of the recent El Niño and La Niña patterns were statistically removed from the record, 2017 would have been the warmest year on record," NASA says.

The warming trend was clear in both land and sea temperature measurements. According to NOAA, 2017 average land surface temperatures were 2.36 degrees Fahrenheit higher than the 20th century average, while sea temperatures were 1.21 degrees Fahrenheit higher than that benchmark.

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Merrit Kennedy is a reporter for NPR's News Desk. She covers a broad range of issues, from the latest developments out of the Middle East to science research news.