Published: Mon, February 11, 2019
Science | By Cecil Little

Earth could be headed for its warmest period on record

Earth could be headed for its warmest period on record

The world temperature in 2018 was the fourth hottest ever recorded, only next to 2016 (the warmest), 2015 and 2017, say the specialists of the National Administration of Aeronautics and Space (NASA).

Nine of the 10 warmest years have occurred since 2005, with the last five years comprising the five hottest, according to NOAA.

Earth's long-term warming trend can be seen in this visualization of NASA's global temperature record, which shows how the planet's temperatures are changing over time, compared to a baseline average from 1951 to 1980.

"2018 is yet again an extremely warm year on top of a long-term global warming trend", NASA's GISS director Gavin Schmidt said. NASA adds that the melting of Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets contributed to a rise in sea level. The average annual sea ice extent was 4 million square miles in 2018, the second smallest extent in records going back to 1979, NOAA reported.

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

"We're no longer talking about a situation where global warming is something in the future", said Schmidt.

On Wednesday, Feb. 6, scientists from NASA and NOAA issued their analysis of the global climate, including its economic impact, in 2018.

Higher temperatures in the Arctic and Antarctic regions is of particular concern for scientists for several reasons. Past year saw a pair of devastating hurricanes hit the eastern U.S., while record wildfires ravaged California.

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"People place way too much emphasis on a single year, usually to re-enforce a story, or a narrative, they have in their mind, already", he said.

Yet Trump has dismissed the threat of climate change, including a landmark assessment by 13 federal agencies last fall that found climate change is inflicting increasing damage to the nation's environment, health and economy. Taalas said that the deadly cold snap was entirely consistent with the effects of manmade climate change, including the warming of the poles.

WMO also released a report on Wednesday that the globally averaged temperature in 2018 was about 0.38 degrees Celsius above the 1981 to 2010 long-term average.

However, scientific analysis shows that for the most recent period, between 1981 and 2018, the frequency of a new record increased to once every three years.

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In January, the same organization warned that levels of planet-warming carbon dioxide will rise by a near-record amount in 2019.

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