Published: Fri, February 08, 2019
Sci-tech | By Patricia Wade

Previous year was Earth's fourth-hottest on record, scientists confirm

Previous year was Earth's fourth-hottest on record, scientists confirm

The data shows that the last five years are collectively the warmest ever recorded, while 18 of the 19 hottest years have taken place since 2001.

The last four years were the hottest since global temperature records began, the United Nations confirmed Wednesday in an analysis that it said was a "clear sign of continuing long-term climate change".

"2015 was the first year that global annual average surface temperatures reached 1.0 °C above pre-industrial levels and the following three years have all remained close to this level", Adam Scaife, head of Long-Range Prediction at the Met Office, said Wednesday in a news release.

2016, boosted by a strong El Nino that normally tips the mercury northwards, remains the hottest year on record.

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

A new study shows that global temperatures a year ago were 1.5° Fahrenheit (0.83°C) warmer than the 1951 to 1980 mean.

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"The long-term temperature trend is far more important than the ranking of individual years, and that trend is an upward one", said WMO Secretary-General Petteri Taalas.

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.

The 20 warmest years in history all occurred within the last 22 years. NASA and NOAA analyzed the same data independently and came to the same conclusion. This warming has been driven largely by increased carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gas emissions in the atmosphere - caused by human activities.

NASA and NOAA added that increasing temperatures can also contribute to longer fire seasons and some extreme weather events.

Scientists found that the Arctic has experienced the most warming, contributing to global sea level rise.

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.

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