NASA confirms 2018 was officially Earth's fourth hottest year

2018 proved that by setting the record as the Earth's fourth highest surface temperature in the nearly 140 years of recording these metrics.

Overall, the past five years have been the five warmest years since records began in the late 1800s, according to a report released Wednesday.

"Twenty-eighteen is yet again an extremely warm year on top of a long-term global warming trend", Goddard Institute for Space Studies Director Gavin Schmidt said in a statement. Land temperatures, they said, were more than 1.1 degrees Celcius warmer than the 20th-century average.

While this planet has seen hotter days in prehistoric times, and colder ones in the modern era, what sets recent warming apart in the sweep of geologic time is the relatively sudden rise in temperatures and its clear correlation with increasing levels of greenhouse gases like carbon dioxide and methane produced by human activity.

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. The warming trends are most evident in the Arctic, NASA said. It was the fourth highest since 1880, the earliest year for which records are available. Shown here are 2017 global temperature data from satellites. Indeed, that natural variation is why climate scientists look primarily at temperature trends over long timescales and don't give too much significance to a single hot or cold year.

"If there was no warming of average temperatures, there would be about an even chance of a daily record high maximum or daily record low minimum occurring", said Meehl, who was not involved in the report. But in the contiguous 48 states, 2018 marked the 14th warmest on record.

The World Meteorological Organization announced similar findings Wednesday. According to NASA and NOAA, there were a total of 14 billion-dollar weather and climate disaster events in the 2018 alone, costing the nation $91 billion in direct economic damages and resulting in 247 deaths. Even an increase in 1.5 could be a great risk to the stability of the world.

Government shutdowns can delay the collection and timely release of important scientific information, as was the case with the information released today.