2018 the fourth-hottest year in history

Global average temperature anomaly for 2018 from NASA. Warmer colors indicate temperatures above the 1951-80 average while cooler colors indicate below average temperatures

The US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), which monitors changes in temperature among other conditions in Earth's atmosphere and oceans, found that the annual mean temperature for the contiguous 48 states was the 14th warmest year on record.

NOAA's report showed that a long-term heating trend continued last year as persistent warmth across large swaths of land and ocean resulted in the fourth hottest year in NOAA's 139-year climate record. 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.

"2018 is yet again an extremely warm year on top of a long-term global warming trend", according to NASA's Gavin Schmidt, the director of the agency's Goddard Institute of Space Studies.

The analysis, based on the monitoring performed by five leading worldwide organisations, also shows that the global average surface temperature in 2018 was approximately 1° Celsius above the pre-industrial (1850-1900) baseline. It's easy, if someone is skeptical to look at a hot year and say it's meaningless, we've been here before. The year ranks just behind 2016 (warmest), 2015 (second warmest) and 2017 (third warmest).

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. Scientists say that if the world is to avoid the worst consequences of climate change, global temperatures must not rise by more than 2 degrees Celsius compared with preindustrial levels.

Schmidt said that 2018 was "quite clearly the fourth warmest year on record and it was probably warmer than many hundreds of years before that".

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"Over the next five years there is a one in 10 chance of one of those years breaking the threshold", Professor Adam Scaife of the Met Office said.

However, the warming trend is most pronounced in arctic areas, leading to ice loss and sea level rise. It appears highly likely, at least from today's perspective, that the line will be crossed, despite the fact that 190 nations have signed the Paris climate agreement.

In addition to the temperature records, the US suffered $91 billion in direct losses from extreme weather events in 2018, the fourth most since 1980, Ardnt said. He did not mention climate change in his State of the Union speech on Tuesday.

Patrick Verkooijen, head of the Global Centre on Adaptation in the Netherlands, told Reuters that the WMO report showed "climate change is not a distant phenomenon but is here right now".

He called for more, greener investments, ranging from defenses against rising seas to drought-resistant crops.

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