2018 officially ranks as the 4th hottest year on record for Earth

By Amanda Schmidt, AccuWeather staff writer
February 06, 2019, 3:17:06 PM EST

The year 2018 followed the pattern of higher-than-average annual temperatures, as the Earth experienced its fourth hottest year on the 139-year record.

Climate experts from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) independently released new data on the global temperatures for 2018 and the most important climate trends of the year on Wednesday, Feb. 6.

NASA, NOAA global temps 2017

NASA and NOAA are two keepers of the world's temperature data and independently produce a record of Earth's surface temperatures and changes. Shown here are 2017 global temperature data: higher than normal temperatures are shown in red, lower than normal temperatures are shown in blue. (NASA's Scientific Visualization Studio)

December 2018’s combined global land and ocean average surface temperature departure from average was the second warmest December in the 139-year record, according to the NOAA analysis.

Eleven of 12 monthly global land and ocean temperature departures from average ranked among the five warmest for their respective months.

In a separate analysis of global temperature data, also released on Wednesday, NASA scientists also determined 2018 to be the fourth warmest year on record.

2018 temp increase


Global temperatures were 1.5 F warmer than the 1951 to 1980 mean, according to scientists at NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies (GISS).

Globally, 2018's temperatures rank behind those of 2016, 2017 and 2015. The past five years are, collectively, the warmest years in the modern record.

2014 - 2018 global temperatures GIF

"The measurement is a global average, so some places felt record high temperatures, while others were near average or even cooler," NASA reported. (Animation/NASA)

“2018 is yet again an extremely warm year on top of a long-term global warming trend,” GISS Director Gavin Schmidt said in the NASA press release.

Since the 1880s, the average global surface temperature has risen about 2 F. This warming has largely been driven by increased emissions into the atmosphere of carbon dioxide (CO2) and other greenhouse gases (GHG) caused by human activities, according to Schmidt.

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NOAA also released its 2018 climate conditions for the United States and an update to the billion-dollar weather disasters for the year.

According to the NOAA report, the U.S. suffered 14 weather and climate disasters, which were responsible for at least 247 deaths and cost about $91 billion in losses, making it the fourth costliest year on record.

hurricane Michael aerial damage

Damaged homes are seen along the water's edge in the aftermath of Hurricane Michael in Mexico Beach, Fla., Friday, Oct. 12, 2018. (AP Photo/David Goldman)

NOAA and NASA collect and analyze the world's temperature data and independently produce a record of Earth's surface temperatures, as well as changes based on historical observations.

Consistency between the two independent analyses and analyses produced by other countries increases confidence in the accuracy and assessment of the data and resulting conclusions.

These analyses provide government and business leaders with critical decision-making information.

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