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Earth's second warmest year on record was 2017



The frigid winter months may leave you forgetting about climate change, but at NASA, global warming was the topic of conversation on Thursday.

According to its annual climate report that calculates global temperatures, 2017 was the second warmest year on record since 1880. Global surface temperatures last year measured 1.6°F warmer than the 1951 to 1980 average.

"We are in a long term warming trend despite the ups and downs we sometimes get on an annual basis."
Gavin Schmidt, Director of NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies

2017 is the latest year to continue the planet's pattern of long-term warming trend, though, 2016 still ranks as the hottest year on record. But scientists say that's mostly due to what's called an El Nino or La Nina, a weather event associated with short-term warmer temperatures.

The devastation was widespread. Look at before and after images of California's wildfires.
VIew the slideshow

What makes 2017 different, however, is the absence of an El Nino event.

"We can make a very specific calculation of the El Nino contribution in various years," Schmidt continued. "You can see it, there was a contribution in 2015, a larger contribution in 2016 but because of last year being relatively neutral, there isn't actually much contribution there at all. And so you're seeing the long term trend that's independent of El Nino."


Regional temperatures differ depending on weather dynamics. That means not every area on Earth experience the same amount of warming temperatures, the report noted. For example, warming trends are the strongest in the Arctic regions with the continued loss of sea ice.

The report, however, hasn't left much of an impact on Energy Secretary Rick Perry, the Washington Post noted.

“To answer your question, no this report does not affect [Energy Secretary Rick Perry’s] beliefs on climate change,” Shalyn Hynes, press secretary at the Department of Energy, said. “He is already on record saying that he believes that the climate is changing and that man is having an impact. As the Secretary of Energy he is focused on the ways we can use innovation and technology to expand American energy production in a cleaner way so that the United States can continue to lead the world in our reduction of emissions.”

Check out these other Circa stories:
The future is female for green sea turtles, but for an alarming reason: climate change
Mother Nature took a toll in 2017. Here are five environmental issues that swept the US.
'We kind of just got overlooked': How an island you've likely never heard of survived the hurricanes

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