The annual assessment is an international, peer-reviewed report giving a summary of the global climate.
It is published as a supplement to the Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society.
The report is based on the contributions of more than 500 scientists from around the world, including the JRC.
It provides a detailed update on global climate indicators, notable weather events, and other data collected by environmental monitoring stations and instruments located on land, water, ice, and in space.
The main function of the report is to document the status and trajectory of many components of the climate system.
However, as a series, it also documents the status and trajectory of our capacity and commitment to observe the climate system.
JRC scientists co-edited the overview of a chapter on "Global Climate".
Notable findings from the international report include:
- Levels of global greenhouse gases were observed to be the highest on record. Major greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere -- including carbon dioxide (CO2), methane and nitrous oxide --reached new record highs. The 2017 average global CO2 concentration was 405.0 parts per million, the highest measured in the modern 38-year global record and in ice-core records dating back as far as 800 000 years.
- Sea level rise hit a new high -- about 7.7 cm higher than the 1993 average. Global sea level is rising at an average rate of 3.1 cm per decade.
- Heat in the upper ocean hit a record high, reflecting the continued accumulation of thermal energy in the uppermost 2 300 feet of the global oceans.
- Global land and ocean combined surface temperature remain high. Depending on the dataset Used, 2017 had the second or third warmest annual global temperature since records began.
- Sea surface temperatures also remain high. While the global average sea surface temperature (SST) in 2017 was slightly below the 2016 value, the long-term upward trend continued.
- The global area of drought fell sharply in early 2017 before rising to above-average values later in the year.
- Arctic maximum sea ice coverage fell to a record low. The 2017 maximum extent (coverage) of Arctic sea ice was the lowest in the 38-year record.
- The Antarctic also saw record-low sea ice coverage, which remained well below the 1981-2010 average.
- A global coral bleaching event spanned from June 2014 to May 2017, resulting in major impacts on reefs. More than 95% of coral in some affected reef areas died.
- The total number of tropical cyclones was slightly above average overall. There were 85 named tropical cyclones in 2017, slightly above the 1981-2010 average of 82 storms.
Background on EU climate action
The EU tracks progress on cutting emissions through regular monitoring and reporting.
This includes an annual assessment of global greenhouse gas emissions using the JRC's Emissions Database for Global Atmospheric Research (EDGAR).
The EU recently put in place legislation to reduce emissions by at least 40% by 2030 – which is part of the EU's 2030 climate and energy framework and contribution to the Paris Agreement. This includes:
- Revising the EU emissions trading system
- National emissions targets for sectors outside the ETS (“effort sharing”)
- Integrating land use, land use change and forestry (LULUCF) into emissions reduction efforts
- Legislation on renewable energy, energy efficiency and governance of the Energy Union
In addition, the Commission recently put forward the third Mobility Package to complete the EU agenda for safe, clean and connected mobility.