2017 one of hottest years on record

The Arctic ended 2017 with the least sea ice for mid-winter.
The Arctic ended 2017 with the least sea ice for mid-winter. Photo credit: Getty

2017 has broken into the record books as one of the hottest years ever recorded.

The UN says last year was the second- or third-warmest documented, while NASA says global surface temperatures were the second warmest since 1880. The only hotter year was 2016, helped by El Nino weather patterns.

Average surface temperatures in 2017 were 1.1degC above pre-industrial times, creeping towards a 1.5C ceiling set under the 2015 Paris climate agreement.

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 UN's World Meteorological Organisation (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 WMO's measurements put 2017's temperatures as "indistinguishable" from 2015.

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 2degC above pre-industrial times - preferably below 1.5degC.

US President Donald Trump, who doubts climate change is caused by manmade emissions, plans to remove the US from the Paris Agreement.

NZN / Newshub.