The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, or NOAA, along with the space agency NASA, released a report on Wednesday on last year's temperature data from around the world. On Wednesday it incorporated the final weeks of a year ago into its climate models and concluded that average global surface temperature in 2018 was 1 degree Celsius (1.8 Fahrenheit) above pre-industrial baseline levels. The last five years-from 2014 to 2018-are the warmest years ever recorded in the 139 years that NOAA has tracked global heat.
Last year was the fourth warmest year on record and the outlook is for more sizzling heat approaching levels that most view as unsafe for humankind on the Earth, a United Nations report has shown.
"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. Land temperatures, they said, were more than 1.1 degrees Celcius warmer than the 20th-century average. "It's the long-term trends that are having impacts on ice, on severity of droughts, on heat waves, on sea level rise and wildfires". The report stated that much of the warming can be attributed to an increase in carbon emissions from human activity. It also said that the 20 warmest years in history all occurred within the last 22 years.
In both data sets, the overall trend of global temperatures is rising.
"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.
NASA and NOAA climate scientists said even though 2018 was a tad cooler than the three previous years that was mostly due to random weather variations. Lower than normal temperatures are shown in blue.
Last year, 29 countries - including much of Europe and the Middle East - and the continent of Antarctica had their hottest years on record, said Zeke Hausfather, a climate scientist with the nonprofit research organization.
The report also noted that the United States experienced 14 natural disasters in 2018 that each caused economic losses of over one billion dollars.
Dr. Schmidt spoke of these markers not as cliffs that the world would plunge over, however, but part of a continuing slide toward increasing levels of harm.