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Land air temperatures are rising faster than sea surface temperatures.
Temperature anomalies are useful for deriving average surface temperatures because they tend to be highly correlated over large distances (of the order of 1000 km).
This long-term trend is the main cause for the record warmth of 20, surpassing all previous years – even ones with strong El Niño events." Although the NCDC temperature record begins in 1880, reconstructions of earlier temperatures based on climate proxies, suggest these years may be the warmest for several centuries to millennia, or longer.
and AR5 reports "Each of the last three decades has been successively warmer at the Earth’s surface than any preceding decade since 1850 (see Figure SPM.1).
The longer you're on the escalator, the higher you go.
And the El Niño phenomenon is like jumping up and down while you're on the escalator." Peter Stott, acting director of the Met Office, noted the influence of the El Niño event on 2016 temperatures but also stated that "the main contributor to warming over the last 150 years is human influence on climate from increasing greenhouse gases in the atmosphere." agreed stating that "[m]ultiple lines of independent evidence confirm that the planet has warmed over the last 150 years: warmer oceans, warmer land, warmer lower atmosphere and melting ice.