Last 4 years hottest on record, UN confirms

February 6, 2019 by Patrick Galey, With Kerry Sheridan In Tampa
Wildfires in 2018 brought destruction to Paradise, California

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

The UN's World Meterological Organization said in November that 2018 was set to be the fourth warmest year in recorded history, stressing the urgent need for action to rein in runaway planetary warming.

On Wednesday it incorporated the final weeks of last year into its and concluded that average global surface temperature in 2018 was 1 degree Celsius (1.8 Fahrenheit) above pre-industrial baseline levels.

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

The 20 warmest years in history all occurred within the last 22 years.

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

"The degree of warming during the past four years has been exceptional, both on land and in the ocean."

The WMO said heightened temperatures also contributed to a number of such as hurricanes, droughts and flash flooding.

"Many of the extreme weather events are consistent with what we expect from a changing . This is the reality we need to face up to," Taalas said.

The UN body also said that 2019 had picked up where 2018 left off, with Australia experiencing its warmest January on record. It warned that intense heatwaves "are becoming more frequent as a result of climate change."

Costly disasters

Similar reports on climate trends released by the US space agency NASA and the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) confirmed that last year was the fourth warmest in modern times.

Sea ice cover in the Arctic and Antarctic both marked the second lowest ever observed.

Meanwhile, there were 14 weather-related disasters costing one billion dollars or more.

"The 14 events, in total, claimed at least 247 lives and cost $91 billion," NOAA said in a statement.

"About $73 billion of this total was attributable to three events: Hurricanes Michael ($25 billion) and Florence ($24 billion), and the complex of western wildfires ($24 billion)."

Effects of climate change

As parts of the mid-western United States were gripped by a "polar vortex" last week that saw temperatures plunge to lows of -64 degrees Fahrenheit (-53C), US President Donald Trump suggested that the cold weather front cast doubt over the veracity of climate change data.

"What the hell is going on with Global Waming? (sic) Please come back fast, we need you!" he said on Twitter.

Taalas said that the deadly cold snap was entirely consistent with the effects of man made climate change, including the warming of the poles.

"A part of the cold anomalies at lower latitudes could be linked to dramatic changes in the Arctic," he said.

"What happens at the poles does not stay at the poles but influences weather and climate conditions in lower latitudes where hundreds of millions of people live."

As much of world continues to rely on fossil fuels, greenhouse gases will keep mounting, trapping heat in the atmosphere.

Rowan Sutton, director of science for the National Centre for Atmospheric Science (NCAS) said that will likely mean more heat records in the years to come.

"Over the next five years the high temperatures seen recently are likely to be sustained and that further warming may well occur, perhaps reaching new record levels for annual average temperatures," he said.

Brian Hoskins, chair of the Grantham Institute at Imperial College London, agreed.

"Our lack of decisive action over climate change makes us like a climber ascending a mountain, knowing that there will not be enough oxygen at some height, yet still we go on," he said.

"Not every individual step takes us nearer disaster, but as confirmed by the Met Office, our general direction is clear."

Explore further: 2018 fourth warmest year in continued warming trend, according to NASA, NOAA

Related Stories

Forecast suggests Earth's warmest period on record

February 6, 2019

The forecast for the global average surface temperature for the five-year period to 2023 is predicted to be near or above 1.0 °C above pre-industrial levels, says the Met Office. If the observations for the next five years ...

Recommended for you

EPA adviser is promoting harmful ideas, scientists say

March 22, 2019

The Trump administration's reliance on industry-funded environmental specialists is again coming under fire, this time by researchers who say that Louis Anthony "Tony" Cox Jr., who leads a key Environmental Protection Agency ...

Coffee-based colloids for direct solar absorption

March 22, 2019

Solar energy is one of the most promising resources to help reduce fossil fuel consumption and mitigate greenhouse gas emissions to power a sustainable future. Devices presently in use to convert solar energy into thermal ...

15 comments

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

JamesG
2.2 / 5 (13) Feb 06, 2019
I don't believe anything that comes from a money laundering organization like the UN. They have no credibility.
antialias_physorg
4.1 / 5 (16) Feb 06, 2019
I don't believe anything that comes from a money laundering organization like the UN. They have no credibility.

Yeah. What are these 'facts' and 'numbers' and 'research' when you can just take your gut feeling and call it 'credibility'.

You, Sir, are a pathetic human being.
Ken_Fabian
4.2 / 5 (10) Feb 06, 2019
Antialias - When the actual measured data keeps saying global warming is real and serious I suppose objecting does get more difficult and the justifications weaker - like objecting because the World Meteorological Organisation operates within the UN NASA/GISS will show the same results of course - with only minor differences, as will CRU, NCAR, BEST and every other measure of global surface temperatures - "But ... UN!" is about as weak as the arguments get. Meteorological agencies around the world contribute and would strongly object if the WMO methodology or data used was flawed - and everything is documented.

I don't know why Phys.org attracts them, but it does seem to have accumulated an excess of amateur experts who appear unable to see how lacking in substance their climate science denial actually is and how nonsensical that they know climate science better than teams of the world's climate scientists working in the world's best science institutions.
Mark Thomas
4.4 / 5 (7) Feb 06, 2019
If JamesG, antigoracle and their ilk are adults getting paid to spread these falsehoods, they should be prosecuted and held accountable. We are already in serious trouble, and far earlier than many of us expected to reach this point even ten years ago. What is really bothering me lately is when I try to imagine how long it will be before CO2 drops below 400 ppm again and how much damage will occur because of it.
Bart_A
1.8 / 5 (10) Feb 06, 2019
Even NASA, of whom has be reported to massage past temperature data to fit their new models, shows a WW surface temperature trend as follows:
https://www.dropb...png?dl=0

Does people in their real mind really think this shows that it is going to be the end of the world soon? These wolf criers are getting more desperate by the day.
Bart_A
1.9 / 5 (9) Feb 06, 2019
The news article title should rather say, "big drop in WW temperatures compared to the year before". It would give a whole different feeling to the story. But these self-proclaimed weather scientists don't ever want to give that impression.
RealityCheck
2.6 / 5 (5) Feb 07, 2019
@Bart_A.

Even NASA, of whom has be reported to massage past temperature data to fit their new models, shows a WW surface temperature trend as follows:
https://www.dropb...png?dl=0

Does people in their real mind really think this shows that it is going to be the end of the world soon? These wolf criers are getting more desperate by the day.
That graph is incorrect. Actually, the REAL temps data from 1970 to now shows that global warming temps have tracked meteorologists' predicted INCREASES in temps....especially so here in OZ. It's too late to play games with reality now, mate.
antialias_physorg
4 / 5 (8) Feb 07, 2019
When the actual measured data keeps saying global warming is real and serious I suppose objecting does get more difficult and the justifications weaker

I'd say objecting has become impossible (and has been so for at least a decade). Objections only make sense if you can argue your objections with supporting facts.

I don't know why Phys.org attracts them

Because they get paid. Every day that action is postponed is money in the bank for certain industries/countries reliant on polluting products and practices.

I seldom have the urge for violence but when I see people like that selling out their own species' survival for a couple of cents I could really picture some "fun" action.
Da Schneib
3 / 5 (4) Feb 07, 2019
The people whose septic tanks have overflowed over their front yards have more guns and more people than the liar deniers. Run and hide. And STFU before you find yourselves dangling by the ankles over their cesspools waiting for the tide.
antigoracle
1.7 / 5 (6) Feb 07, 2019
The people whose septic tanks have overflowed over their front yards have more guns and more people than the liar deniers. Run and hide. And STFU before you find yourselves dangling by the ankles over their cesspools waiting for the tide.

Da Schitt, the "meat" loving, knob gobbler, brays again.
As his boyfriend, pummels his rectum, trying to hit his "sweet spot", Da Schitt soils the forum with the contents of the septic tank between his ears.
Hey Da Schitt, is your boyfriend aware of your bondage fetish?
Da Schneib
2.3 / 5 (3) Feb 07, 2019
@tehalgore is really afraid of the cesspool gangs.
cantdrive85
3 / 5 (4) Feb 07, 2019
You, Sir, are a pathetic human being

Sounds just like a Catholic deriding a god denier. LOL!
cantdrive85
3 / 5 (4) Feb 07, 2019
I seldom have the urge for violence

As has been displayed numerous times, the neoliberals are the violent ones in our society. It's all that tolerance they claim to have.
Da Schneib
2.3 / 5 (3) Feb 07, 2019
That would only be a problem if he were deriding someone who wasn't opposing real data.

Nice try though.

Have fun with the cesspool gangs.

Are we done with the "we got more guns" bullshit? Or are you now claiming you never said it?
Captain Stumpy
3 / 5 (2) Feb 10, 2019
@Mark T
...are adults getting paid to spread these falsehoods, they should be prosecuted and held accountable
they can be prosecuted under fraud laws in certain states, so long as you can prove intent, which can be done considering source material, argument, and the known refutation presented from science

problem is: they idiots in question do *not* reside in those states and you would have to have evidence of payment from certain non-profits or org's that are presenting said fraudulent data

it is entirely possible that the above idiots are volunteers, much like the fanatical religious sects arguing for creation science, making it unprosecutable under the 1st amendment

,

@Ken F
I don't know why Phys.org attracts them
because they stopped moderating and do not abide by their own comment guidelines any longer

it really is that simple

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.