NASA: 2018 4th Hottest Year On Record, Arctic Warming Faster

NASA says 2018 officially the 4th hottest year since the 1880s, with record warming occurring in the Arctic leading to greater ice sheet loss.
John Loeffler

NASA announced today that 2018 was officially the 4th warmest year since the 1880s, with the fastest increase in warming found in the Arctic.

Global Temperature 1.5F Degrees Warmer Than Recent Average

According to NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies (GISS), the global temperature for 2018 was 1.5 degrees Fahrenheit warmer than the mean global temperature for the years 1951-1980.

“2018 is yet again an extremely warm year on top of a long-term global warming trend,” says Gavin Schmidt, Director of the GISS.

At 4th warmest, only 2016, 2017, and 2015 have been warmer than 2018, and the past five years, taken together, are the warmest years in the modern temperature record.

Due to the dynamic character of global weather patterns, not every place of the Earth experiences the same levels of warming. 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.

Fastest Warming Found in the Arctic

NASA also found that the greatest warming trend overall was in the Arctic region, which has seen the continual loss of sea ice in recent years. Greenland ice sheets continue to suffer mass loss, which together with similar ice sheet loss in Antarctica, contributed to sea level rise.


Higher temperatures in the Arctic and Antarctic regions is of particular concern for scientists for several reasons.

Most importantly, ice sheet loss from Arctic and Antarctic glaciers lead to sea level rise, which threatens coastal communities around the globe, particularly in developing regions of the world.

Changes in Arctic temperatures also contribute to an increase in extreme weather events as the jet stream, a circular current of air around the Arctic that is responsible for weather patterns in the Northern Hemisphere, gets disrupted.

The polar vortex event last month that saw record lows across the American Midwestern states, leading to several deaths, is a result of a weakening of the jet stream and the kind of weather event that scientists fear will become more frequent as the temperature in the Arctic continues to rise.

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NASA Finds Recent Warming Trend Continuing

Since record keeping began in the 1880s, the average global surface temperature has risen around 2 degrees Fahrenheit (1 degree Celsius).

The warming is driven largely by the continued emission of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases into the atmosphere by human activity, such as manufacturing, coal-fired power plant emissions, and deforestation.

Scientists believe that without a rapid reduction in greenhouse gas emissions, the warming trend will continue and the effects of climate change more severe.

“The impacts of long-term global warming are already being felt — in coastal flooding, heat waves, intense precipitation and ecosystem change,” says Schmidt.

NASA’s global temperature analyses use surface temperature recordings from 6,300 weather stations around the world, incorporating ship- and buoy-based measurements of ocean surface temperatures as well as measurements of surface temperatures from Antarctic research outposts.

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