It is official: 2018 was the fourth warmest year in recorded history. According to NASA and NOAA, last year's global surface temperature was nearly one degree Celsius hotter than average.
On Wednesday, Feb. 6, scientists from NASA and NOAA issued their analysis of the global climate, including its economic impact, in 2018.
The report published by NASA confirmed that 2018 was 0.83 degrees Celsius or 1.5 degrees Fahrenheit warmer than the temperature recorded from 1951 to 1980. This, according to scientists, is a result of the continuing warming trend caused by the excess emission of greenhouse gasses into the atmosphere.
"2018 is yet again an extremely warm year on top of a long-term global warming trend," stated Gavin Smith, director of the Goddard Institute for Space Studies.
The last five years, starting in 2014, are the warmest that have been recorded since scientists started keeping track of the global surface temperature in 1880. The hottest year on record was 2016 when the average global surface temperature was 0.99 degrees Celsius or 1.78 degrees Fahrenheit higher than the mid-20th century mean. The following year, 2017, is ranked as the second warmest.
NASA added that the Arctic region experienced the strongest effects of the warming trends in 2018. Greenland and Antarctica saw a mass loss of sea ice, contributing to sea level rise.
An Expensive Year Of Disasters
On Wednesday, NOAA also issued their own analysis of the economic impact of global warming. In their report, scientists revealed that the United States experienced 14 separate billion-dollar disasters in 2018, amounting to $91.0 billion. They declared 2018 as the fourth highest total costs, following 2017 ($312.7 billion), 2005 ($220.8 billion), and 2012 ($128.6 billion).
The past year was very active in terms of weather-related disaster events. The country experienced two tropical cyclones, eight severe storms, two winter storms, drought, and wildfires.
More alarmingly, these expensive calamities are becoming more frequent. From 1980-2018, the annual average number of billion-dollar weather-related disaster events is 6.2. In the past 5 years, the annual average rose to 12.6.
"We're no longer talking about a situation where global warming is something in the future," said Schmidt. "It's here. It's now."