2017 was the hottest year on record without an El Niño, thanks to global warming

Climate scientists predicted the rapid rise in global surface temperatures that we’re now seeing

Firefighters lighting backfires as they try to contain the Thomas wildfire in Ojai, California on on December 09, 2017.

 Firefighters lighting backfires as they try to contain the Thomas wildfire in Ojai, California on on December 09, 2017. Photograph: Mark Ralston/AFP/Getty Images

2017 was the second-hottest year on record according to Nasa data, and was the hottest year without the short-term warming influence of an El Niño event:

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1964–2017 global surface temperature data from Nasa, divided into El Niño (red), La Niña (blue), and neutral (black) years, with linear trends added.

In fact, 2017 was the hottest year without an El Niño by a wide margin – a whopping 0.17°C hotter than 2014, which previously held that record. Remarkably, 2017 was also hotter than 2015, which at the time was by far the hottest year on record thanks in part to a strong El Niño event that year.

For comparison, the neutral El Niño conditions and the level of solar activity in 1972 were quite similar to those in 2017. 45 years later, the latter was 0.9°C hotter than the former. For each type of year – La Niña, El Niño, and neutral – the global surface warming trend between 1964 and 2017 is 0.17–0.18°C per decade, which is consistent with climate model predictions.

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