2018 Likely to be 4th Hottest; But 2019 Might Break All Records

According to NASA’s global monitoring division, the period of December 2017 through November 2018 was the fourth hottest such time ever measured in the global climate record. Starting in 1880, the measure now spans 138 years. And it marks a period of unprecedented rapid change in the Earth’s climate system — driven primarily by fossil fuel burning and the resulting emission of heat trapping gasses into the Earth’s atmosphere.

Global temperatures 2018 NASA

(The above graphic provided by NASA GISS shows the ongoing monthly warming trend since 1880. Recent record hot years show up in red. Present 2018 dates and temperatures are indicated by the black dots and red line near the top of the graph. Image source: NASA.)

NASA’s monitor shows 2018 hitting 0.82 degrees Celsius above its own mid 20th Century baseline for the 12 month time-frame. This puts 2018 about 1.04 C above 1880s averages in the December to November period composing NASA’s climate year. 2018 is now on track to be the fourth hottest year behind 2016 (#1), 2017 (#2), and 2015 (#3). As a result, every year of the past four years represents the hottest years ever recorded since consistent measurements began more than a century ago.

According to every major climate monitoring agency, the uncontested driver of this warming trend is an ongoing and growing fossil fuel based greenhouse gas emission. During 2018, atmospheric carbon dioxide levels rose to an average near 410 parts per million and carbon dioxide equivalents, a measure taking into account all greenhouse gasses, hit near 495 parts per million. This level of heat trapping gasses is unprecedented for at least the past 18 million years and will result in significant continued warming if they remain or keep rising.

Looking forward, an emerging El Nino combined with these high and rising levels of heat trapping gasses has the potential to produce record global temperatures during 2019. According to NOAA, sea surface temperatures in the Equatorial Pacific are presently in the El Nino range and the climate monitor is predicting a 90 percent chance of official El Nino formation during the winter of 2018 with a 60 percent chance for its continuance during spring.

(Video blog providing in-depth analysis of NASA’s most recent global temperature update.)

El Nino is the hot end of the natural variability scale. When combined with rising atmospheric greenhouse gasses trapping more heat in the Earth system, it has tended to produce record hot or near record hot years. 2016 saw a very strong El Nino along with a major new global temperature milestone in the range of 1.21 C above 1880s averages. Though the 2019 El Nino is predicted to be milder than the 2016 event, high and rising greenhouse gasses means that a new record could be breached with temperatures likely to hit a range between 1.17 C and 1.3 C.

With present temperatures now well outside the typical range for the past 10,000 years following the last ice age, each additional 0.1 C of warming is likely to bring additional impacts on top of the more severe weather, worsening fires, rising seas, and ocean health impacts we have already seen. It is thus the case that the age of human caused climate change is upon us and that escalating climate action is needed to prevent a quick ramp to catastrophic events.

Leave a comment


  1. Reblogged this on jpratt27.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Andy_in_SD

     /  December 26, 2018

    Welcome back Robert. Lots going on out there, and it’s picking up speed and intensity. Even a small El Nino is now pushing things heavily. It’s not 1997 any more where a “biggie” moves the needle.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. oldmoses

     /  December 27, 2018

    Glad for your return. Your climate related wisdom is greatly appreciated.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Erik Frederiksen

     /  December 27, 2018

    Good to see you back again. In a communication regarding 2017 global temperature James Hansen noted that temperature over the next few years will be of interest to see if a significant excursion above the trend line is underway.

    He noted concerns about increased climate forcing and polar feedbacks.

    Liked by 2 people

  5. godfrey street

     /  December 27, 2018

    Hi Robert,

    thanks for all your work.
    I am very concerned that events in the biosphere are overtaking all other considerations.
    In particular the very great loss in the insect population, apparently worldwide.
    Would you be willing to apply your research methods to checking this out?
    I have done my best but may well be missing important elements.
    Kind regards,


    Liked by 1 person

  6. Tigertown

     /  December 27, 2018

    It looks like the world’s refrigerator is broken. Slow sea ice extent growth in the Arctic along with an incredible melt season underway regarding the sea ice around Antarctica is making the global sea ice extent go into a nose dive. The global sie is about to be in record territory for the day of the year and by next month has the potential to drop to an all time never seen before low. With this ballast of sea ice being at its weakest ever, how extreme will the world’s weather get? It is believed that the sea ice has tempered the weather in the past. I guess we will soon know.


  7. Robert in New Orleans

     /  December 27, 2018

    Ah yeah, the prodigal son has returned home to ancient spawning grounds. 🙂

    Liked by 3 people

  8. Jean Swan

     /  December 28, 2018

    Thanks for the post,Robert ..I hope there are more to follow..Also I look forward to the learned the learned comment section!

    Liked by 1 person

  9. wharf rat

     /  December 29, 2018

    Robert’s back; what a nice Xmas present.

    What Could Happen If Entire U.S. Adopted California’s New Solar Policy?
    What would happen if builders installed solar panels on all new U.S. homes starting in 2020? According to a new report from Environment America Research & Policy Center, the country could more than triple its current solar capacity by 2045.

    Specifically, the resulting 203 GW of new residential solar PV capacity would represent 3.5 times the 58 GW of solar capacity currently installed in the entire U.S., the report estimates. Further, such a policy could also cut current annual carbon-dioxide (CO2) emissions from electricity generation by more than 9% by 2045, the report says.


    Liked by 2 people

  10. wharf rat

     /  December 29, 2018

    2018 – the hottest La Niña year ever recorded
    The past five years are the five hottest since the launch of reliable global measurements more than a century ago.


    Liked by 1 person

  11. Kiwi Griff

     /  December 30, 2018

    Thanks for the post Robert.

    Have we tipped over a tipping point?

    Discovery of recent Antarctic ice sheet collapse raises fears of a new global flood

    Some 125,000 years ago, during the last brief warm period between ice ages, Earth was awash. Temperatures during this time, called the Eemian, were barely higher than in today’s greenhouse-warmed world. Yet proxy records show sea levels were 6 to 9 meters higher than they are today, drowning huge swaths of what is now dry land.

    Scientists have now identified the source of all that water: a collapse of the West Antarctic Ice Sheet. Glaciologists worry about the present-day stability of this formidable ice mass. Its base lies below sea level, at risk of being undermined by warming ocean waters, and glaciers fringing it are retreating fast. The discovery, teased out of a sediment core and reported last week at a meeting of the American Geophysical Union in Washington, D.C., validates those concerns, providing evidence that the ice sheet disappeared in the recent geological past under climate conditions similar to today’s. “We had an absence of evidence,” says Anders Carlson, a glacial geologist at Oregon State University in Corvallis, who led the work. “I think we have evidence of absence now.”

    If it holds up, the finding would confirm that “the West Antarctic Ice Sheet might not need a huge nudge to budge,” says Jeremy Shakun, a paleoclimatologist at Boston College. That, in turn, suggests “the big uptick in mass loss observed there in the past decade or two is perhaps the start of that process rather than a short-term blip.” If so, the world may need to prepare for sea level to rise farther and faster than expected: Once the ancient ice sheet collapse got going, some records suggest, ocean waters rose as fast as some 2.5 meters per century.

    More detail here..

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Jean Swan

     /  January 1, 2019

    Grist has put negative thoughts in my brain on New Year..Most of Warren’s announcement video is dedicated to anti-Wall Street messaging. “Corruption is poisoning our democracy,” she says. But where does Warren stand on the environment? It’s an issue that top Democrats — most recently, billionaire philanthropist Michael Bloomberg — have signaled might finally be a campaign priority in 2020.

    Well if you jump to the 2:43 mark, you’ll catch Warren calling out the oil industry for “destroying this planet.” That’s all we get from this candidate on the environment (so far), but she will likely release more information on her platform in the coming months. She’s got a 99 percent lifetime score from the League of Conservation Voters — an organization that keeps tabs on how politicians vote on the environment. https://grist.org/article/elizabeth-warren-is-running-for-president-heres-what-shes-saying-about-the-environment/

    Liked by 1 person

    • DJ LX

       /  January 5, 2019

      I’d like to see Warren, and other presidential candidates, advocate for a fee-and-dividend for pricing CO2 emissions. Such an approach could serve as a mechanism for weening ourselves off of fossil fuels in favor of renewables and living a less energy intensive life in general.



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