2018 was fourth hottest year on record due to global warming

The last five years have been the hottest on record.                  NASA screenshot by CNET

The past four years - 2015, 2016, 2017 and 2018 - have been confirmed as the warmest years on record around the world, according to new research released by the UN's World Meteorological Organisation (WMO) on Thursday.

NASA declared Wednesday that 2018 was the fourth-hottest year in 139 years of records as average global temperatures rose alongside surging fossil fuel emissions.

Since 1880s, the average global surface temperature has risen about 1°C.

If it seems like you've heard this before, you have: Eighteen of the hottest 19 years have occurred since 2001.

To combat warming, nearly 200 governments adopted the Paris climate agreement in 2015 to phase out the use of fossil fuels and limit the rise in temperatures to 2C above pre-industrial times while "pursuing efforts" for 1.5 degrees Celsius.

CNN notes that the past three years have each set a record for the number of natural disasters hitting the United States that caused more than $1 billion in damage. "The global average temperature between now and 2023 is predicted to remain high, potentially making the decade from 2014 the warmest in more than 150 years of records". NASA and NOAA analyzed the same data independently and came to the same conclusion.

The obvious long-term trend of steady warming makes it easier to more accurately predict near future warming, NASA chief climate scientist Gavin Schmidt said.

NOAA said the average temperature for the contiguous U.S.in 2018 was 53.5 degrees Fahrenheit, making it a warmer-than-average year for the 22nd year in a row.

NOAA found the 2018 annual mean temperature for the 48 continental United States was the 14th warmest on record, the Arctic region saw the continuing loss of sea ice in 2018, and the mass loss from the Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets continued to contribute to rising sea levels.

All the results show the same "escalator-like" rise that scientists think is linked to the loss of sea ice, as well as an increase in extreme weather events around the world.

Increasing temperatures can also contribute to longer fire seasons and some extreme weather events, according to Schmidt.

Nasa's data was compiled by 6,300 weather stations around the world and was compared against information stretching back to 1880.

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