Earth’s global surface temperatures in 2018 were the fourth warmest since 1880, according to studies by National Aeronautics and Space Administration, or NASA, and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, or NOAA, which work together to track the Earth’s temperatures as part of continued research.
The record dates back to 1880, when it became possible to collect consistent, reliable temperatures around the planet, according to a statement from NASA.
Global temperatures in 2018 were 1.5 degrees Fahrenheit warmer than the 1951 to 1980 mean, according to scientists at NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies, or GISS, in New York. Globally, 2018’s temperatures rank behind those of 2016, 2017 and 2015. Collectively, the past five years are the warmest years in the current record.
NASA’s temperature analyses incorporate surface temperature measurements from 6,300 weather stations, ship- and buoy-based observations of sea surface temperatures and temperature measurements from Antarctic research stations, according to the website.
“2018 is yet again an extremely warm year on top of a long-term global warming trend,” said GISS Director Gavin Schmidt in a statement.
Since the 1880s, the average global surface temperature has risen about 2 degrees Fahrenheit, or 1 degree Celsius.
This warming has been driven in large part by increased emissions into the atmosphere of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases caused by human activities, according to Schmidt.
Weather dynamics often affect regional temperatures, so not every region on Earth experienced similar amounts of warming. NOAA found the 2018 annual mean temperature for the contiguous 48 United States was the 14th warmest on record, per the website.
According to Schmidt, the Arctic region is seeing the strongest warming trends, with a continued loss of sea ice in 2018. Additionally, mass loss from Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets continue to contribute to sea level rise. Increasing temperatures can also contribute to longer fire seasons and some extreme weather events.
“The impacts of long-term global warming are already being felt — in coastal flooding, heat waves, intense precipitation and ecosystem change,” said Schmidt.
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