Scientists at NASA and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) on Wednesday announced that global temperatures in 2018 were the fourth hottest on record in the last 139 years. On Wednesday it incorporated the final weeks of a year ago into its climate models and concluded that average global surface temperature in 2018 was 1 degree Celsius (1.8 Fahrenheit) above pre-industrial baseline levels. The year 2016, which was 1.69 degrees Fahrenheit warmer than the 20th-century average, holds the top spot, with 2018 at 1.42 degrees F warmer. Nine of the 10 warmest years have been recorded since 2005, with the last five years comprising the five hottest.
Specifically, NASA said global temperatures in 2018 were 1.5 degrees Fahrenheit above the average from 1951 to 1980. The report stated that much of the warming can be attributed to an increase in carbon emissions from human activity. Eighteen of the warmest 19 years have occurred since 2000; the other one was 1998.
NASA and NOAA climate scientists said even though 2018 was a tad cooler than the three previous years that's mostly due to random weather variations.
"The key message is that the planet is warming, " said Gavin Schmidt, director of NASA's Goddard Institute for Space Studies. But in the long-term, the two agencies strongly agree on the pace and trajectory of global warming. According to NASA and NOAA, there were a total of 14 billion-dollar weather and climate disaster events in the U.S.in 2018 alone, costing the nation $91 billion in direct economic damages and resulting in 247 deaths.
Last year, 29 countries - including much of Europe and the Middle East - and the continent of Antarctica had their hottest years on record, said Zeke Hausfather, a climate scientist with the nonprofit research organization. Right behind Michael were the western US wildfires and Hurricane Florence, which both racked up $24 billion in damages, according to NOAA. In addition, mass loss from the Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets continued to contribute to sea level rise, and increased temperatures contributed to longer and more intense fire seasons, ranging from California to Australia.
Government shutdowns can delay the collection and timely release of important scientific information, as was the case with the information released today.