2017 was one of the top 3 hottest years on record

January 19, 2018, 12:32 p.m.
Rohingya Muslim people, who crossed over from Myanmar into Bangladesh, wait for their turn to collect food aid near Kutupalong refugee camp, Bangladesh.
Photo: Sk Hasan Ali/Shutterstock.com

It's official — but not in a good way. We just closed another record-setting year, making 2017 one of the top three hottest years since 1880, when official record keeping began.

Both NASA and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) have confirmed the findings in separate reports, though their methods differ just enough to effect the rankings: NOAA puts 2017 as the third-hottest on record while NASA puts it second. No matter how you look at it, it's not a number to celebrate.

And it comes on the heels of a superlative we really don't want to brag about: NASA and NOAA named 2016 the hottest year on record.

These record-setting years are one more piece of data showing a continued rise in global temperatures year over year. Even with the La Niña effect, the pattern is clear: we're making the planet hotter.

The five warmest years on record all have taken place since 2010, according to NASA, which summed up the trend with startling clarity:

The planet’s average surface temperature has risen about 2 degrees Fahrenheit (a little more than 1 degree Celsius) during the last century or so, a change driven largely by increased carbon dioxide and other human-made emissions into the atmosphere. Last year was the third consecutive year in which global temperatures were more than 1.8 degrees Fahrenheit (1 degree Celsius) above late nineteenth-century levels.

The following is a representation of a century of temperatures, animated by NASA:

The photo shows a crowd of Rohingya Muslim people, who crossed over from Myanmar into Bangladesh and are waiting for their turn to collect food aid near Kutupalong refugee camp, Bangladesh. Bangladesh is one of the areas most battered by the many factors of climate change.

Editor's note: This story was originally written in January 2016 and has been updated with more recent information.