Was 2018 Warmer Than The Previous Years?

By Joseph Kiprop on December 18 2018 in Environment

Extreme heat warning sign at Death Valley National Park in California.
Extreme heat warning sign at Death Valley National Park in California.

Scientists have reached the consensus that the temperatures around the world are increasing gradually. Due to the increase in global temperatures, 2018 was considered one of the hottest years. According to reporting from several news organizations such as Axiom, the Guardian, and CNN, the global temperatures in 2018 were the fourth-highest ever recorded. Data from NASA indicates that the average global temperature recorded in 2018 was 1.8ºF higher than the average temperature of the 19th century. Some places, such as Death Valley in the US state of California, experienced higher temperatures than they ever had before.

Measuring the Global Temperature

Some international organizations participate in measuring the global temperature such as the National Space Agency, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, and the Berkley Earth Institute. The scientists at these organizations use different methods to determine the global temperatures with the most important one being the use of satellite images. Apart from using satellite data, scientists also rely on measurements of the land temperature and the sea temperature. Another method of measuring the global temperature, which is used by the Copernicus Institute, is referred to as reanalysis. In the reanalysis system, the scientists at the Copernicus Institute determine the global temperature based on a model and weather measurements for the entire year.

Record High Temperatures

There are several months in 2018 that experienced higher temperatures than they usually experience such as June and September. In some sections of the world such as Death Valley, the higher temperatures were a tourist attraction as people took the chance to be photographed next to a thermometer as it indicated the high temperatures. According to several meteorological institutes, September 2018 was considered the fourth hottest September in recorded history. In September, according to information published on the Fortune website, the area that Arctic ice covered shrunk significantly as it only covered 1.77 million square miles. According to research from the National Snow and Ice Data Center, the decrease in the size of the polar ice was similar to a decrease that occurred in 2008 and 2010.

Factors that Influenced the Temperature of 2018

Several factors influenced the temperature of 2018 such as the occurrence of an El Niño and a La Niña. Another factor that contributed to the high temperatures in 2018 was the emission of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere as a result of various human activities such as industrialization and deforestation.

The 2018 La Niña

Even though 2018 was one of the hottest years ever recorded, during the first half of the year, the temperatures were significantly lower than in other years. The lower temperatures were due to a weather phenomenon referred to as La Niña. The La Niña is part of a weather cycle that has far-reaching effects on the global climate. The La Niña that affected the temperature of the early portion of 2018 began towards the end of 2018. In some areas, due to the influence of the La Niña, the temperature of the sea surface reduced by as much as 41ºF.

The 2018 El Niño

One of the major events that contributed to the high global temperatures in 2018 was the El Niño. In 2018, the El Niño occurred after the La Niña during the second half of the year. According to climate scientists, the effect of the El Niño is usually felt after three months. Due to the lag in the impact of the El Niño on the global climate, scientists expect that the impact of the 2018 El Niño will be felt in the later portions of the year.

Heat Waves

In 2018, several major heat waves greatly contributed to the year being considered one of the hottest years ever recorded. The heat waves affected several nations such as the United Kingdom, the United States, and Sweden. In some regions, the heat waves were extremely destructive as they contributed to the death of seniors as well as a reduction in the number of crops harvested around the world. Another effect of the heat wave is that it contributed to the most rapid growth of algae that has never been witnessed within the Baltic Sea. The rapid growth of algae was extremely disastrous to human and animal life as it made the water toxic. The heat waves also contributed to wildfires in some areas.

The Swedish Wildfire

One of the most significant impacts of the 2018 heat waves was the wildfires in several areas. In Sweden, the heat waves resulted in massive wildfires that were considered to be some of the largest in the nation's history. The heat wave that struck Sweden began in early May and lasted until July. According to Swedish meteorological experts, May of 2018 was the hottest May in Swedish history while July of 2018 was also the hottest July in the country's history. To combat the wildfires, the Swedish government enlisted the help of civilians, the Swedish army, and firefighters.

Wildfires in the UK

In 2018, the UK was also a victim of wildfires that started as a result of a massive heat wave in the country. According to information published by the BBC, the heat wave officially began in June, and a few days after it started, a massive wildfire struck the country affecting the Saddleworth Moor region. The fire was exceptionally destructive as it destroyed more than 7 square miles of land. The UK heatwave also sparked a massive wildfire in the Winter Hill region. The Winter Hill wildfires were also destructive as they destroyed more than 7 square miles of land. The government of the UK had to rely on the firefighters, the army, and civilian volunteers to combat the wildfires.

The Economic Impact of Global Warming

The increase in global temperatures has an adverse impact on the global economy. One of the sectors that are greatly affected is the health sector as heat waves have an adverse health effect, particularly on older people. The agricultural sector is also adversely affected by the global increase in temperature.

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