Environment

State of the Climate report paints 2018 as a devastating, record-breaking year

State of the Climate report pa...
According to a new report from the World Meteorological Organization, 2018 was one of the hottest years on record
According to a new report from the World Meteorological Organization, 2018 was one of the hottest years on record
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A chart describing the surface-air temperature anomalies for January to October 2018
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A chart describing the surface-air temperature anomalies for January to October 2018
According to a new report from the World Meteorological Organization, 2018 was one of the hottest years on record
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According to a new report from the World Meteorological Organization, 2018 was one of the hottest years on record

Another day, another dire report on the planet's future. The World Meteorological Organization (WMO) has released a provisional Statement on the State of the Climate in 2018, and the picture it paints is all too familiar: temperature records were shattered, sea ice shrank and extreme weather events devastated every continent in one of the hottest years on record.

The WMO is an intergovernmental organization and a specialized agency of the United Nations for weather and climate, Earth's water cycle and other geophysical sciences. The report is assembled from data gathered from climate institutions all over the world, including the Met Office Hadley Center in the UK and NOAA and NASA's Goddard Institute for Space Studies in the US.

The main take-away from the report might be that 2018 is the fourth hottest year on record, in terms of average global temperature. If that doesn't sound too bad, remember that the three hotter years are the previous three years: 2016 still holds the number one spot, followed by 2015 and then 2017. If we extend the scoreboard to the top 20, they all fall within the past 22 years, showing a pretty clear upward trend.

While the data only takes into account the first 10 months of 2018 (hence the provisional status on the report), the global average temperature for that period was almost 1° C (1.8° F) above the pre-industrial baseline, measured as the average between 1850 and 1900. This global average wasn't just from one source either, but five independent data sets.

Local average temperatures were also much higher than usual. Helsinki reported a record long run of 25 consecutive days of over 25° C (77° F), and strong heatwaves gripped Germany, France, the UK, Ireland, Spain and Portugal. Japan and South Korea reported new heat records of over 41° C (105.8° F), Algeria broke 51.3° C (124° F) for the first time and Oman sweated through a sleepless night with an overnight low of 42.6° C (109° F).

A chart describing the surface-air temperature anomalies for January to October 2018
A chart describing the surface-air temperature anomalies for January to October 2018

The Statement also shows that the oceans were much warmer, with each of the first three quarters of the year recording the highest or second highest ocean heat content on record. As a result, the extent of sea ice in both the Arctic and Antarctic was well below average, which has raised the Global Mean Sea Level between January and July 2018 by 2 to 3 mm over the first half of last year.

Extreme weather events struck all across the globe, breaking records that we really don't want to be breaking. The long-term annual average for tropical cyclones is 53, but this year saw 70 storms reported, including some of the worst on record. Hurricanes Florence and Michael may have grabbed many headlines in the US, but Mangkhut, Yutu, Jebi, Son-Tinh and Soulik caused considerable damage throughout Asia.

Heavy rainfall caused flooding in India, Japan, Kenya, Somalia, Ethiopia, Tanzania, and around the Mediterranean Sea. At the other end of the scale, drought gripped Germany, the Czech Republic, the Netherlands, Belgium, Uruguay, and parts of Australia, Poland, France and Argentina.

Greece and Scandinavia suffered through major wildfires, while British Columbia and California reported the most devastating wildfire seasons on record in their respective countries.

The list goes on and on, but the message is clear. This Statement on the State of the Climate is in alarming agreement with the US government's Fourth National Climate Assessment released last week, as well as the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report made public in October.

Keeping the average temperature to 2° C (3.6° F) above pre-industrial levels has been declared the bare minimum threshold to stave off the worst effects of climate change. Unfortunately, the UN Environment's Emissions Gap Report, released earlier this week, points out that we're not yet on track to meet that target.

The UN is meeting in December to discuss climate change policies and begin implementing the guidelines to meeting this goal set out in the Paris Agreement. This WMO report will help inform those negotiations.

"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," says Elena Manaenkova, Deputy Secretary-General of WMO. "It makes a difference to economic productivity, food security, and to the resilience of our infrastructure and cities. 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."

The report can be viewed in full online (PDF) and some of its scary statistics are highlighted in the video below.

Source: World Meteorological Organization

State of the Climate 2018

15 comments
piperTom
As the article says "another day, another dire report...". We really need dire reports, with 'devastating' in the headlines, because folks who venture outdoors don't feel devastated. If they bother to look up actual measurements of global atmospheric temps, they find about 0.25 degree C rise over the thirty year average. "D-d-devastating!" Yes, it's warmer and yes, humans had a role in that... but if you want 'devastating', you need to consider what Congress is going to do when the fear mongers get power again.
bwana4swahili
"Keeping the average temperature to 2° C (3.6° F) above pre-industrial levels has been declared the bare minimum threshold to stave off the worst effects of climate change." Ain't gonna happen! But homo sapiens will adapt or go extinct... In the meantime governments will devise ways to take more money from your pocketbook to supposedly remedy the problem; unsuccessfully. As for Canadian weather, I really appreciate the somewhat warmer winters and wetter summers! And yes, our Liberal government believes a carbon tax (grab) will resolve the issue; total B.S.!
Daishi
If rational humans want to argue if humans are the cause of warming not I can accept that but I can't get beyond people who either insist that the world is not actually warming or insist a few days of cold weather or a snowstorm is somehow proof global warming is a hoax. Global warming is real and humans are likely a large reason for it but I don't believe it's reversable at this point. Google had some really agressive efforts to try to stop global waming a while back and redirected funding partly based on some research work that concluded the task would essentially be impossible. World population is outgrowing previous WHO projections. It is expected that population growth will level off in developing countries as they modernize but when that happens energy use per person increases to first world levels with it. All official world population projections are operating under the assumption that population growth will slow in developing countries but what if it doesn't? I try to be objective but I think future generations are going to struggle though depletion of the planets resources. Some countries have birth rates at or below replacement but immigration from higher birth rate countries into those countries will ensure population growth in every country in the world for well beyond my lifespan.
JustJim
Total BS. we have not even reached the warming that existed back a few thousand years ago. The Roman warm times. It was much warmer. we are warming up after the last time the it got cold several hundred years ago. Human caused? No. Climate changes all the time. Everywhere. Everyday.
ljaques
Ohmigodwereallgonnadieagainagainagain! Let's see, we are not quite halfway to the next ice age, so temps are still climbing as expected. The 3 most data-massaging entities created the data which this study used. And the sun has been hiccupping lately. Yeah, it must be man's fault and all "they" need to take away from us are gasoline, diesel, Jet A, propane, natural gas, butane, coal, charcoal, wood, and nuclear power. Welcome to the New 7th Century, folks. Islamic and African countries will be very much at home while we regress to their normal state. How progressive is that?
christopher
Great idea for a report - because now we can do something about it!. Like stop reproducing - that's an easily achievable first step! Then, maybe we can stop moving around, stop staying warm, and stop cooking - problem solved!! How hard was that?
AlBerard
One good size volcano eruption somewhere on earth and all those temperature stats will be useless .
Vf6cruiser
Another load of BS so the white coat boys can re-load their "research" coffers. I guess they couldn't find the polar bear pic on a block of ice, I miss that.
Kpar
Of course, the WMO would NEVER issue a self-aggrandizing, biased report. Or would they?
Nik
As this report has included the end portion of ''The Little Ice Age'' where temperatures were exceptionally low, its pretty well meaningless. The biggest source of heat, is probably all the hot air produced, by the number of committees endlessly discussing it. As the Earth is presently in an Ice Age, that started something like 30 million years ago, and still has at least that long to go, any ''warming'' is trivial, and only a relative term, which has no value.