Was Earth's 4th-Hottest Year On Record, Scientists Say

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.

The Earth's temperature in 2018 was more than one degree Celsius, or 1.8 degrees Fahrenheit, above the average temperature of the late 19th century, when humans started pumping large amounts of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere.

The 2018 temperatures rank just behind those of 2016, 2017 and 2015, and 2014 was the fifth warmest.

In fact, the past five years have been, "collectively, the warmest years in the modern record", according to NASA.

The records also show that the annual temperature of the Old Continent increased at an average rate of 0.12 Celsius degrees per decade since 1910, although it has nearly quadrupled to 0.43 Celsius since 1981.

Even an increase of 1.5 degrees will have dire consequences, according to the United Nations science panel on climate change.

Americans escaped the worst of it last year though; while the rest of the planet cooked, the USA experienced only its 14th-warmest year.

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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".

"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.

"It's a long-term trip up the elevator of warming", says Deke Arndt, the chief of the global monitoring branch of NOAA's National Centers for Environmental Information in North Carolina.

It was also an expensive year for natural disasters.

Last year was also the third wettest on record in the U.S. Nine eastern states had their wettest years on record, "an exclamation point on a trend of big rain" in the age of climate change, Arndt said. Scientists have linked climate change to more destructive hurricanes like Michael and Florence previous year, and have found links to such phenomena as the polar vortex, which last week delivered bone-chilling blasts to the American Midwest and Northeast.

Results of the year's global temperature ranking are normally announced in January, but due to the effects of the government shutdown, federal scientists research for the analysis were postponed.

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