Monday 23 January 2017 11.00 GMT
According to Nasa, in 2016 the Earth’s surface temperature shattered the previous record for hottest year by 0.12°C. That record was set in 2015, which broke the previous record by 0.13°C. That record had been set in 2014, beating out 2010, which in turn had broken the previous record set in 2005.
If you think that seems like a lot of record-breaking hot years, you’re right. The streak of three consecutive record hot years is unprecedented since measurements began in 1880. In the 35 years between 1945 and 1979, there were no record-breakers. In the 37 years since 1980, there have been 12. The video below illustrates all of the record-breaking years in the Nasa global surface temperature record since 1880.
Nasa global surface temperature data, with record-breaking years shown in red. Created by Dana Nuccitelli.
These include a spate of five record hot years between 1937 and 1944; however, ongoing research is investigating whether some of those are artificial, due to changes in the way temperatures were measured during World War II.
Even including World War II, in the first 100 years of the Nasa data, the high temperature record was broken seven times. It’s been broken seven times in just the past 20 years.