NASA scientists announced Wednesday that in 2018, temperatures on Earth were the fourth-warmest since 1880, a trend they attribute to an increase of fossil fuel emissions.
Global temperatures in 2018 were 1.5 degrees Fahrenheit (0.83 degrees Celsius) warmer than the 1951 to 1980 average, according to data collected by NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies and by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, according to a statement.
NASA ranked 2018 behind 2016, 2017 and 2015 in terms of heat. However, the past five years are the warmest years in the modern record, the statement said. Furthermore, 18 of the 19 warmest years on record have occurred since 2001, The New York Times reported.
The average global surface temperature has risen about 2 degrees Fahrenheit (1 degree Celsius) since the 1880s, NASA said. Much of the warming is believed to be driven by increased emissions into the atmosphere of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases caused by human activities, according to GISS Director Gavin Schmidt.
“The impacts of long-term global warming are already being felt — in coastal flooding, heat waves, intense precipitation and ecosystem change,” Schmidt said.
The strongest warming trends are occurring in the Arctic, according to NASA. A hole was recently found in a glacier in Antarctica that’s the size of two-thirds of Manhattan and 1,000 feet deep. Other effects include heat waves in Australia and hurricanes like Michael and Florence, Schmidt told The New York Times.
"This has been a historic period of weather and climate extremes," Adam Smith, lead researcher at NOAA's National Centers for Environmental Information, told CNN.
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