By: Brittany Bedi | WCTV Pinpoint Weather Team
February 6, 2019
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WCTV) -- Scientists from NASA Godard Institute for Space Studies and The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) have released data from 2018.
Air and sea surface temperature data from 6,300 weather stations, ship and buoy observations, and temperature measurements from Antarctic research stations were analyzed. The data shows that the average global temperature in 2018 was 1.5 degrees warmer than average (the average used was a baseline between 1951 and 1960.)
The past five years are the warmest years in modern record. It's part of a continued global warming trend.
"The planet is warming. The long-term trends are extremely robust," said Gavin Schmidt, the director of NASA's Goddard Institute for Space Studies. "There's no question about those trends existing in the data,- however we slice it.
The understanding of why those trends are occurring is also very robust. It's because of the increases of greenhouse gases."
NOAA notes that weather dynamics affect regional temperatures, so not every region experienced the same amount of warming. NOAA found the average mean temperatures for the contiguous U.S. was the 14th-warmest on record.
However, the warming trend is most pronounced in arctic areas, leading to ice loss and sea level rise. Research scientists say increasing temperatures could lead to longer fire seasons and some extreme weather events.
Sea surface temperature changes are not as large as air temperatures, due to water's heat-storing capacity. NOAA and NASA noted that sea surface temperatures were also increasing. Warmer sea surface temperatures help tropical storms and hurricane intensify.
"According to our calculations, the Gulf of Mexico region had it's third warmest year on-record this year," said Deke Arndt, chief of the monitoring section of NOAA's National Centers for Environmental Information.
Such rapid strengthening was already displayed during Hurricane Michael in October 2018.
The storm destroyed buildings, homes and several trees from the coastal Big Bend and inland to Southwest Georgia.
Disasters like Michael were costly for locals and the entire country. $91 billion of damages were reported in 2018.
NOAA put together this map of billion-dollar disasters from 2018. Hurricane Michael, Hurricane, Florence, and the western wildfires were the most expensive disasters. pic.twitter.com/gt43ExfjMc— Brittany Bedi (@BrittanyBedi) February 7, 2019
Hurricane Michael was responsible for $25 billion in damages, Hurricane Florence cost an additional $24 billion and the stretch of wildfires that scorched the western U.S. cost another $24 billion.
Those major disasters, plus other smaller-scale disasters, made 2018 the fourth-most costly year on-record.
NOAA and NASA scientists say that in regards to global temperatures, the foot is on the accelerator. They expect continued overall warming through the years, with smaller fluctuations during El Nino and La Nina phases.
Click here for more information on the global 2018 data.