The instrumental temperature record provides the temperature of Earth's climate system from the historical network of in situ measurements of surface air temperatures and ocean surface temperatures.
Data are collected at thousands of meteorological stations, buoys and ships around the globe.
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The blue uncertainty bars show a 95% confidence limit. Watch how summer temperatures in the Northern Hemisphere change from 1955 to 2011.
"Hot" (orange), "very hot" (red) "extremely hot" (brown) "average" (white), unusually "cold" (light blue), "very cold" (dark blue) and "extremely cold" (purple).
The longest-running temperature record is the Central England temperature data series, that starts in 1659.
The longest-running quasi-global record starts in 1850.
2017 being the third hottest year on record meant that 17 of the last 18 warmest years have occurred since 2000.
While record-breaking years can attract considerable public interest, individual years are less significant than the overall trend.
The trend is faster for land than ocean, faster for Arctic regions, and faster since the 1970s than the longer period.