Video: 2018 was the fourth hottest year on record, NASA reportsPeter Brown | February 07, 2019
It’s getting hot in here.
For the past five years, the Earth has witnessed the hottest years on record, with 2018 coming in as the fourth warmest since 1880, according to new analysis by NASA and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).
Global temperatures in 2018 were 1.5° F (0.83° C) warmer than the mean temperature from 1951 to 1980. While 2018’s average temperature was cooler than the averages in 2015, 2016 and 2017, the last five years collectively were the warmest on modern record.
“2018 is yet again an extremely warm year on top of a long-term global warming trend,” said Gavin Schmidt, director of NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies (GISS).
Changes in weather affect regional temperatures, so not every region on Earth experiences similar amounts of warming. NOAA found, for example, that 2018 ranked as the fourteenth warmest year in the 48 contiguous United States.
Since the 1880s, average global surface temperatures have risen about 2° F (1° C), driven in larger part by increased emissions into the atmosphere of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases caused by human activities, Schmidt said.
The highest warming trends were in the Arctic region. The area is witnessing the continued loss of sea ice and mass loss from Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets, contributing to rising sea levels. Increasing temperatures also contribute to longer fire seasons and extreme weather events.
“The impacts of long-term global warming are already being felt — in coastal flooding, heat waves, intense precipitation and ecosystem change,” Schmidt said.
NASA’s analysis incorporated surface temperature measurements from 6,300 weather stations, ship- and buoy-based observations of sea surface temperatures and temperature measurements from Antarctic research stations.
This raw data was analyzed using an algorithm that considers the spacing of the temperature stations around the globe and the urban heat island effects that could skew the conclusions. NASA said its results for 2018’s global mean change is accurate to within 0.1° F with a 95% certainty level.
To learn more about NASA’s findings, view its Annual Global Analysis for 2018.