Published: Sat, February 09, 2019
Science | By Michele Flores

2018 fourth warmest year on record: NASA, NOAA

2018 fourth warmest year on record: NASA, NOAA

The Earth experienced its fourth-hottest year in more than 136 years in 2018. "We are seeing more and more warming that is happening at a faster and faster rate".

Specifically, NASA said global temperatures in 2018 were 1.5 degrees Fahrenheit above the average from 1951 to 1980.

This year has also started with scorching temperatures, including Australia's warmest January on record, while North America had the complete opposite, experiencing a polar vortex that plunged parts of America into temperatures colder than that of Antarctica's.

Weather dynamics mean warming affects regions in different ways. "It's the long-term trends that are having impacts on ice, on severity of droughts, on heat waves, on sea level rise and wildfires".

Once again, the world was unusually hot in 2018. 2016, boosted by a strong El Nino that normally tips the mercury northwards, remains the hottest year on record.

NASA and NOAA independently monitor the Earth's surface temperatures and changes based on observations of both land areas and oceans, using a network of satellites scattered in Earth orbit.

"The 20 warmest years on record have been in the past 22 years", Mr Taalas said.

Patrick Verkooijen, head of the Global Centre on Adaptation in the Netherlands, told Reuters that the WMO report showed "climate change is not a distant phenomenon but is here right now".

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The U.S. temperature in 2018 was the 14th warmest on average, said NOAA climate monitoring chief Deke Arndt.

The reports caught the attention of many across the climate science community, including Waleed Abdalati, director of the Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences at the University of Colorado.

US President Donald Trump has taken little action to address global warming. Indeed, that natural variation is why climate scientists look primarily at temperature trends over long timescales and don't give too much significance to a single hot or cold year.

Overall, the past five years have been the five warmest years since records began in the late 1800s, according to a report released Wednesday. "That's a clear upward signal".

"If there was no warming of average temperatures, there would be about an even chance of a daily record high maximum or daily record low minimum occurring", said Meehl, who was not involved in the report.

If a warming planet were an Olympic sport, fourth wouldn't make the podium. Meanwhile, only 2.4 percent of the surface was significantly colder than that baseline period.

In fact, 2018 was the wettest year in the last 35 years. It warned that intense heatwaves "are becoming more frequent as a result of climate change".

But the USA did get soaked in 2018, says Deke Arndt, a climate scientist with NOAA.

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