2018 Was the Fourth Hottest Year on Record in Nearly 140 Years

February 6, 2019, 6:09 PM UTC

Scientists at NASA and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) on Wednesday announced that global temperatures in 2018 were the fourth hottest on record in the last 139 years.

From 1981 onward, the average increase in global temperature doubled from 0.13 degrees Fahrenheit (0.07 degrees Celsius) per decade since 1880, to 0.31 degrees Fahrenheit / 0.17 degrees Celsius, with the hottest four years to date recorded as 2016, 2017, 2015, and 2018, according to the analysis.

“The five warmest years have, in fact, been the last five years” said Gavin A. Schmidt, director of NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies, the New York Times reports.

Last year also marked the 42nd consecutive year of global land and ocean temperatures rising above the 20th century average, with nine of the 10 warmest years on record occurring since 2005, the analysis found.

The World Meteorological Organization announced similar findings Wednesday. “The 20 warmest years on record have been in the past 22 years. The degree of warming during the past four years has been exceptional, both on land and in the ocean,” Petteri Taalas, the secretary general of the WMO, told The Guardian.

A United Nations climate report released last year warned that world leaders were unlikely to prevent the planet from warming beyond the 1.5 degrees Celsius target.

The rising temperatures—connected to human-driven climate change—could trigger a rise in deadly heatwaves, droughts, and flooding, among other disasters threatening the planet and the global population.