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The Past Four Years – The Warmest On Record


Key Points:

    The warmest 20 years on record have been in the past 22 years
    Extreme and high impact weather affected many countries and millions of people
    Many of the extreme weather events are consistent with what we expect from a changing climate
    Intense heatwaves are becoming more frequent as a result of climate change.


  • The World Meteorological Organization (WMO) confirms past 4 years were warmest on record.
  • The WMO consolidated and analysed data from five international datasets and found the global average surface temperature in 2018 was around 1°C higher than the pre-industrial baseline.

    The warmest 20 years on record have been in the past 22 years, but the past four years in particular have been exceptional, according to the WMO.

    Australia had its warmest January on record, with heatwaves unprecedented in their scale and duration. Tasmania had its driest January on record, with destructive bushfires. There has been a long-term increase in extreme fire weather, and in the length of the fire season, across large parts of Australia, according to its Bureau of Meteorology.

    Intense heatwaves are becoming more frequent as a result of climate change.

    The year 2016 remains the warmest year on record (1.2°C above preindustrial baseline). Global average temperatures in 2017 and 2015 were both 1.1°C above pre-industrial levels. The latter two years are virtually indistinguishable because the difference is less than one hundredth of a degree, which is less than the statistical margin of error.

    WMO Secretary-General Petteri Taalas said “The long-term temperature trend is far more important than the ranking of individual years, and that trend is an upward one,

    “Temperatures are only part of the story. Extreme and high impact weather affected many countries and millions of people, with devastating repercussions for economies and ecosystems in 2018,”

    “Many of the extreme weather events are consistent with what we expect from a changing climate. This is a reality we need to face up to. Greenhouse gas emission reduction and climate adaptation measures should be a top global priority,” said Mr Taalas.

    The globally averaged temperature in 2018 was about 0.38°C (±0.13°C) above the 1981-2010 long-term average (estimated at 14.3°C).

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