NASA scientists announced Wednesday that the Earth’s average surface temperature in 2018 was the fourth highest in nearly 140 years of record-keeping and a continuation of an unmistakable warming trend.
“The five warmest years have, in fact, been the last five years,” said Gavin A. Schmidt, director of the Goddard Institute for Space Studies, the NASA group that conducted the analysis. “We’re no longer talking about a situation where global warming is something in the future. It’s here. It’s now.”
Over all, 18 of the 19 warmest years have occurred since 2001.
The results of this warming, Dr. Schmidt said, can be seen from the heat waves in Australia and extended droughts to coastal flooding in the United States, in disappearing Arctic ice and shrinking glaciers. Scientists have linked climate change to more destructive hurricanes like Michael and Florence last 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.
While this planet has seen hotter days, and colder ones, what sets recent warming apart in the sweep of history is the relative suddenness of the rise in temperatures and its clear correlation with increasing levels of greenhouse gases like carbon dioxide and methane produced by human activity over the same period. [Continue reading…]