January 18, 2018
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Another year, another dubious climate achievement.

NASA announced Thursday that per its annual temperature analysis, 2017 was the second-hottest year ever recorded. The space authority has been tracking global climate since 1880, and 2017 ranked second only to 2016 in terms of highest average temperature. Overall, in 2017 the planet was 1.62 degrees Fahrenheit warmer than the 20th-century temperature average.

Quartz notes that 2017's extreme heat is particularly noteworthy because the year did not see any El Niño weather patterns — which brew over the Pacific Ocean and "typically add significant heat to global average temperatures," Quartz explains. In 2016, El Niño accounted for more than one-tenth of a degree of temperature increase, but "in 2017, none of the temperature anomaly could be attributed to that natural heat source," Quartz writes.

Still, 2017 was ranked only the third-warmest year (behind 2016 and 2015) by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, which uses slightly different metrics for its climate examination. So maybe there's nothing to worry about after all. Kimberly Alters