By Priya Shukla
The year 2018 was marked with regular bouts of breaking news concerning rising temperatures across the globe including rapidly warming oceans and the Arctic losing 95% of its oldest ice. And today, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) released a statement that 2018 was the fourth-warmest year on record, after 2016, 2015, and 2017.
To obtain these measurements, NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Science (GISS) gathered data from over 6,000 weather stations and instruments installed on ships, buoys, and at Antarctic research stations. Overall, 2018 was 0.83 °C (1.43 °F) warmer than average (called an “anomaly” due to its deviation from a baseline measurement of global temperatures spanning 1951 – 1980).
“We have evidence that [warming temperatures will affect] health, economic growth, labor productivity, agriculture, crime and conflict, ” says Dr. Amir Jina, an Assistant Professor in environmental and development economics at University of Chicago’s Harris School of Public Policy, “So climate change is not just about environmental changes – this is affecting our health, our wealth, and our happiness.”
Because changes in temperature are regionally variable, not all parts of the world experienced warming equally. The Arctic region experienced the greatest warming in 2018, while sea ice loss in Greenland and Antarctica caused global sea level rise and extended periods of warming likely contributed to severe wildfire and extreme weather events.
According to Dr. Jina, “The direct impacts are definitely worse in coastal areas, particularly in the South. They face the ‘perfect storm’ of threats – hotter temperatures, sea level rise, and worse storms.”
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