Experts say we are now in the warmest half-decade in more than 120, years, and we should be worried.
2018 has been the fourth warmest year since 1880, according to independent studies confirmed by NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies (GISS) and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).
“2018 is yet again an extremely warm year on top of a long-term global warming trend,” explained GISS Director Gavin Schmidt.
However, on a global scale, last year’s temperatures remain behind those of 2015, 2016, and 2017, although the 2018 data confirm the trend of continuous heating.
It’s not exactly the best news you expect to hear when climate change is a hotly debated political problem.
According to scientists, global temperatures last year were 0.83 ° C higher than the average from 1951 to 1980.
But as explained by scientists from the World Meteorological Organization (WMO), the prolonged period of record temperatures is far more important than only looking at individual years.
“The long-term temperature trend is far more important than the ranking of individual years, and that trend is an upward one,” said World Meteorological Organization Secretary-General Petteri Taalas.
“The 20 warmest years on record have been in the past 22 years. The degree of warming during the past four years has been exceptional, both on land and in the ocean. Temperatures are only part of the story. Extreme and high impact weather affected many countries and millions of people, with devastating repercussions for economies and ecosystems in 2018.”
“Many of the extreme weather events are consistent with what we expect from a changing climate. This is a reality we need to face up to. Greenhouse gas emission reduction and climate adaptation measures should be a top global priority.”
In fact, since people started keeping records, the temperature on Earth has steadily increased by as much as 2°F (1°C).
While this may not seem much at first, it has huge implications.
Climate dynamics often affect regional temperatures, so not all regions of the Earth experienced similar warming.
Thus, warming trends are strongest in the Arctic region, where in 2018, scientists registered a continuous loss of sea ice.
In addition, the loss of mass from the ice sheets of Greenland and Antarctica continued to contribute to sea level rise.
The WMO is expected to issue its full Statement on the State of the Climate in 2018 in March of 2019.
“Many of the extreme weather events are consistent with what we expect from a changing climate. This is a reality we need to face up to. Greenhouse gas emission reduction and climate adaptation measures should be a top global priority,” concluded Taalas.