2018 was 4th Warmest, but Next 5 Years Could Break Records

UN warns world on track to breach 3C rise by 2100; last year was fourth warmest on record

2018 temps were Earth's fourth-hottest ever

The last five years were collectively the world's warmest on record, two of the largest US science agencies announced on Wednesday. 2015 (2nd-warmest) and 2017 (3rd-warmest) were hotter than 2018. Nine of the 10 warmest years have been recorded since 2005, with the last five years comprising the five hottest.

"We're no longer talking about a situation where global warming is something in the future", said Gavin A. Schmidt, who is the director of the Goddard Institute for Space Studies.

The report shows the global average temperature was 14.69 degrees Celsius, or 0.79 degrees above the average for the 20th century. The long-term trends are extremely robust.

While this planet has seen hotter days in prehistoric times, and colder ones in the modern era, what sets recent warming apart in the sweep of geologic time is the relatively sudden rise in temperatures and its clear correlation with increasing levels of greenhouse gases like carbon dioxide and methane produced by human activity.

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"The long-term temperature trend is far more important than the ranking of individual years, and that trend is an upward one", the UN's World Mereological Organisation (WMO) secretary-general Petteri Taalas said in a statement. With global emissions rising for the second year in a row, this disastrous trend shows no signs of changing any time soon.

NOAA and NASA each analyze temperature measurements from thousands of sites around the world, including weather stations on land and ships and buoys spread across the world's oceans.

Global warming is also increasingly evident in local measurements, where daily records for high temperatures are toppling more than twice as often as daily records for low temperatures, said Gerald Meehl, a senior scientist at the National Center for Atmospheric Research. 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. That would be warmer than the last four years.

The 2018 global temperature reports were originally scheduled for release in mid-January, but they were delayed because the 35-day partial government shutdown prevented government scientists from finalizing their calculations.

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