2017 was second or third warmest year, behind 2016 – U.N.

OSLO (Reuters) – Last year was the second or third warmest on record
behind 2016, and the hottest without an extra dose of heat caused by an
El Niño event in the Pacific Ocean, the United Nations said on Thursday.

Average surface temperatures in 2017 were 1.1 degree Celsius (2.0
Fahrenheit) above pre-industrial times, creeping towards a 1.5C (2.7F)
ceiling set as the most ambitious limit for global warming by almost 200
nations under the 2015 Paris climate agreement.

Last year was indistinguishable, so far, from 2015 as the second or

third warmest behind 2016, making 2017 “the warmest year without an El
Niño”, the U.N’s World Meteorological Organization (WMO) said.

Temperatures in both 2016 and 2015 were lifted by an El Niño, a natural
event which can disrupt weather patterns worldwide every few years and
releases heat from the Pacific Ocean into the atmosphere.

“When even the ‘colder’ years are rewriting the warmest year record
books, we know we have a problem,” said Professor Dave Reay, chair in
carbon management at the University of Edinburgh.

Seventeen of the warmest 18 years since records began in the 19th
century have now happened since 2000, confirming that ever more
greenhouse gases are driving up temperatures, the WMO said.

Among extreme weather events last year, the Caribbean and the United
States suffered a battering from hurricanes, the Arctic ended 2017 with
the least sea ice for mid-winter and tropical coral reefs suffered from
high water temperatures.

“Arctic warmth has been especially pronounced and this will have
profound and long-lasting repercussions on sea levels, and on weather

patterns in other parts of the world,” WMO Secretary-General Petteri
Talaas said in a statement.

The findings, which match a projection by the WMO in November, now have
full-year data including from NASA, the U.S. National Oceanic and
Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and Britain’s Met Office with the
University of East Anglia.

In the United States alone, weather and climate-related disasters cost
the United States a record $306 billion in 2017, especially western
wildfires and hurricanes Harvey, Maria and Irma, NOAA said last week.

The 2015 Paris agreement, which seeks to shift the world economy from
fossil fuels this century, aims to limit temperatures to “well below” a
rise of 2C above pre-industrial times while pursuing efforts to limit it
to 1.5C.

U.S. President Donald Trump, who doubts climate change is caused by
man-made emissions, plans to quit the Paris accord.

A leaked draft of a U.N. scientific report shows that warming is on
track to breach the 1.5C goal set by the 2015 Paris climate agreement by
mid-century, unless governments make unprecedented economic shifts from
fossil fuels.

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