2018 was the fourth-hottest year on record, with the past five-years being the warmest five consecutive years, according to the a number of agencies including the UN’s climate body, NASA and NOAA; if these statistics sound familiar, that’s because they are: 18 of the globe’s 19 hottest years have been since 2001.
The findings come from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and NASA; you can access each of the press releases via the supplied hyperlinks.
“The long-term temperature trend is far more important than the ranking of individual years, and that trend is an upward one,” Secretary-General of the WMO Patteri Taalas said. “The warmest years on record have been in the past 22 years.”
According to their statistics, the average global temperature stands 1.0 degree celsius (1.8 Fahrenheit) above pre-industrial times, based on data from U.S., Japanese, European and British weather agencies. Agencies have been maintaining an independent data set that dates back to 1880 to monitor long-term shifts in climate patterns.
“The impacts of long-term global warming are already being felt - in coastal flooding, heat waves, intense precipitation and ecosystem change,” Gavin Schmidt, director of NASA’s Goddard Institute.
“2018 is yet again an extremely warm year on top of a long-term global warming trend.” NASA has released a timelapse of global surface temperatures recorded between 1890-2018 which you can access here.
“This warming has been driven in large part of increased emissions into the atmosphere of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases caused by human activities.”
According to the data, polar regions are warming up at some of the fastest recorded rates, with ice caps retreating in the Arctic and Antarctic, as well as Greenland contributing to a potentially disastrous rise in the globe’s sea levels.
“This has been a historic period of weather and climate extremes.” Said Adam Smith, the lead researcher at NOAA’s National Centres for Environmental Information.
NOAA’s research focussed on the U.S. context, which experienced fourteen separate climate disasters, with the damage bill exceeding $1-billion.
“Not only have many of these events rewritten the record books, but nearly all regions of the US were impacted in some way.”
All up, the natural disaster bill for last year stands around $91 billion, factoring in major natural disasters Hurricane Michael ($25-billion), Florence ($24-billion) and Wildfires that engulfed California, costing around $24-billion, amongst other smaller scale natural disasters.
The Paris Climate Accord intends to limit warming to a 1.5-degree Celsius over pre-industrial levels, and with this most recent report, we can see that in a short period of time, we've hit the two-thirds mark of that limit.