CNN  — 

The last seven years have been the seven warmest on record for the planet, new data shows, as Earth’s temperature continues its precarious climb due to heat-trapping fossil fuel emissions.

A new analysis by the European Union’s Copernicus Climate Change Service, which tracks global temperature and other climate indicators, found 2021 was the fifth-warmest year on record.

Though the long-term trend is up, yearly fluctuations in global temperature are expected, mainly because of large-scale weather and ocean patterns like El Niño and La Niña, the latter of which was present in 2021 and tends to lead to cooler global temperature.

“The really important thing is to not get hung up on the ranking of one particular year but rather kind of see the bigger picture of ever-warming temperatures, and that ever-warming doesn’t mean every year will be warmer than the next,” said Freja Vamborg, senior scientist at Copernicus. “But that was what we’ve seen so far with every decade warmer than the next — and this is quite likely to continue.”

Earth’s average temperature is around 1.1 degrees Celsius above average pre-industrial levels, Copernicus reports, 73% of the way to the 1.5-degree threshold scientists warn the planet must stay under to avoid the worst impacts.

Kim Cobb, director of the Global Change Program at the Georgia Institute of Technology, said a warming of 1.1 degrees Celsius is a “conservative” estimate.

“It is very fair to say that 1.1 degrees Celsius is conservative, because the last half of the last decade has been warmer than the first half,” Cobb, who is not involved with the report, told CNN.

Even at 1.1 degrees, 2021 made abundantly clear the world is already feeling unprecedented effects of the climate crisis many are not prepared for, including significant melting events in the Arctic, deadly floods, unprecedented heat waves and