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Annual global climate report finds 2017 to be third warmest year on record

The American Meteorological Society’s (AMS) annual State of the Climate report has found 2017 to be one of the top three warmest years since records began in 1850, following 2015 and 2016 as the first and second warmest years.

Global surface temperatures were between 0.38°C and 0.48°C above the 1981-2010 average and 2017 was found to be the warmest year on record in which El Niño did not play a role in amplifying global surface temperatures.

Dr Robert Dunn, a co-editor of the report and a senior scientist at the UK’s Met Office, said, “Despite 2017’s surface temperatures not breaking the absolute record, the fact that it is following the pattern of one warm year after another is concerning and we are seeing impacts of these warmer temperatures around the world.”

Atmospheric greenhouse gases reached their highest levels in the instrumental record in 2017, with average CO₂ concentrations reaching a record high of 405ppm. Glaciers have lost ice for the 38th successive year and with sea surface temperatures close behind the record set in 2016, we are continuing to see severe damage to coral reefs, with one particularly destructive bleaching event lasting three years.

The report also describes some of the extreme weather events that occurred in 2017. Dunn added, “Extreme weather events have always been a feature of our climate, and 2017 also experienced some notable events. In 2017, extreme rainfall in Venezuela triggered the most devastating floods in over a decade, while Hurricane Harvey set new rainfall records in Texas.

“In contrast, extreme drought affected at least 3% of global land area each month, a figure matched only in 1984, 1985 and 2016.”

To read more from AMS’s State of the Climate report 2017, click here.

- August 2018

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