The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration released a 2018 climate assessment Wednesday, and the temperatures continue to climb.
The Earth's temperature in 2018 was more than one degree Celsius, or 1.8 degrees Fahrenheit, above the average temperature of the late 19th century, when humans started pumping large amounts of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. Last year's temperatures rank only behind 2016, 2017, and 2015. Scientists say that if the world is to avoid the worst consequences of climate change, global temperatures must not rise by more than two degrees Celsius compared with pre-industrial levels. "2018 is yet again an extremely warm year on top of a long-term global warming trend".
An iceberg melts in the waters off Antarctica.
In 2015, nearly 200 governments adopted the Paris climate agreement to phase out the use of fossil fuels and limit the rise in temperatures between 1.5C to 2C, to avert "dangerous" man-made climate change. But if you look at two, three, four, now five very warm years, then it is much harder to dismiss that.
The records also show that the annual temperature of the Old Continent increased at an average rate of 0.12 Celsius degrees per decade since 1910, although it has nearly quadrupled to 0.43 Celsius since 1981. Deathly record lows are real in the United States of America, but don't be fooled by the cooling that we have been witnessing, global warming is real also.
"The key message is that the planet is warming, " said Gavin Schmidt, director of NASA's Goddard Institute for Space Studies.
A 2018 NOAA map shows where average temperatures were higher than usual.
US President Donald Trump has taken little action to address global warming.
"If there was no warming of average temperatures, there would be about an even chance of a daily record high maximum or daily record low minimum occurring", said Meehl, who was not involved in the report.
Results of the year's global temperature ranking are normally announced in January, but due to the effects of the government shutdown, federal scientists research for the analysis were postponed.
Trump has vowed to pull out of the 2015 Paris agreement forged by almost 200 countries, including the U.S. The pact sets a goal of keeping global warming "well below" 3.6 degrees Fahrenheit over pre-industrial levels, a threshold meant to avert the most devastating and irreversible effects of climate change.