2018 Is on Track to Be the 4th Hottest Year on Record

November 29, 2018, 6:06 PM UTC

The world is heating up.

According to a new report from the UN’s World Meteorological Organization (WMO), 2018 is on track to be the fourth hottest year on record.

Between January and October, the average global temperature was close to 1°C (1.8°F) above the pre-industrial baseline that was set between 1850 and 1900. But that increase doesn’t just apply to this year alone.

The WMO found that the past four years have been the top four hottest years on record, while the 20 hottest have all taken place in the last 22 years. The data is based on five independent global temperature data sets.

And the hottest is yet to come. The WMO suggests that global temperatures could continue to rise by as much as 3 to 5°C (5.4-9.0°F) this century alone—far above the global target of limiting that increase to 2°C (3.6°F) or less. Secretary-General Petteri Taalas further warned that if the world continues to exploit fossil fuel resources, “the temperature rise will be considerably higher.”

Deputy Secretary General Elena Manaenkova added that “every fraction of a degree of warming makes a difference to human health and access to food and fresh water, to the extinction of animals and plants, to the survival of coral reefs and marine life.”

“It makes a difference to economic productivity, food security, and to the resilience of our infrastructure and cities,” she said. “It makes a difference to the speed of glacier melt and water supplies, and the future of low-lying islands and coastal communities. Every extra bit matters.”