Earth just experienced one of the warmest years on record
08 February, 2019, 18:14
"The five warmest years have, in fact, been the last five years", Gavin Schmidt, director of NASA's Goddard Institute for Space Studies, tells the Times.
NASA registers 2018 "global temperatures" at 1.5 degrees F (0.83 degrees C) warmer than their average, while NOAA recorded "global land and ocean surfaces" 1.42 degrees F (0.79 degrees C) above the 20th century average. It was also nominally the warmest year for Europe (and particularly the hottest in France, Germany and Switzerland) since continental records began in 1910.
The US temperature a year ago was the 14th-warmest on average, NOAA climate monitoring chief Deke Arndt said.
"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", NASA said in a statement.
Weather dynamics mean warming affects regions in different ways.
"Over the next five years the high temperatures seen recently are likely to be sustained and that further warming may well occur, perhaps reaching new record levels for annual average temperatures", he said.
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Schmidt also said that increasing temperatures can also contribute to longer fire seasons and some extreme weather events. Greenland ice sheets continue to suffer mass loss, which together with similar ice sheet loss in Antarctica, contributed to sea level rise.
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.
We're only in the second month of the year, however, by careful consideration and comparison with weather patterns from previous years, climate scientists can make a reasonably good prediction about how 2019 is going to turn out, at least with regards to global average temperatures.
Weather extremes last year included wildfires in California and Greece, drought in South Africa, floods in India, while the new year saw Queensland and Tasmania threatened by record-breaking floods and bushfires.
NASA uses the unique vantage point of space to better understand Earth as an interconnected system.