The tally is in: 2018 was the fourth-hottest year on record.
NASA and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration released their final count of the global temperature records for 2018 at the beginning of February. Their results show that while 2018 cooled slightly relative to the 2015-2017 period – three years that are each in the top three hottest years on record – it was still 1.42 degrees Fahrenheit above the average temperature for the 20thcentury.
The report also included a brief tally of weather-related disasters. In the US, the entirety of the Midwest and East Coast were hit with above-average to record-breaking precipitation, while Hurricanes Michael and Florence caused a combined $50 billion in damage. In California, historic wildfires caused by increasing temperatures and drought cost an addition $24 billion in damages and killed nearly one hundred people.
More broadly, 2018 is part of a trend of warming around the planet that points clearly back to climate change. Last year was the 42ndconsecutive year with an above-average global temperature and the 14thwarmest year on record in the US. The response to the report was a reiteration of the consensus among scientists on the importance of addressing climate change and renewed calls for action by numerous government officials.