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BAMS State of the Climate in 2018 Report

Cover page for BAMS State of the Climate 2018 Report
BAMS State of the Climate 2018

It was another year of records, as 2018 was the fourth-hottest year ever for the globe—behind 2016, 2015 and 2017, respectively—according to the 29th annual State of the Climate report. The planet also experienced another record-high year of greenhouse gas concentrations and sea-level rise.

This international annual review of the world’s climate, led by scientists from NOAA’s National Centers for Environmental Information and published by the Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society, is based on contributions from more than 470 scientists in nearly 60 countries. It offers insight on global climate indicators, extreme weather events and other valuable environmental data.

Notable findings from the international report include:

  • Levels of greenhouse gases rose to a new high. Major greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere—including carbon dioxide (CO2), methane and nitrous oxide—all reached another record. The 2018 average global CO2 concentration was 407.4 parts per million—up from 405.0 parts per million last year. This is the highest ever measured in the modern 60-year measurement record and records created from ice-core samples dating back as far as 800,000 years.
  • The globe continued to bake. The globally averaged surface temperature was 0.30°–0.40°C above the 1981–2010 average, depending upon the dataset used. Not only was this the fourth-warmest year on record, all of the four hottest years have occurred since 2015. There were also more high, and fewer low, temperature extremes than nearly the entire extremes record dating to the mid-20th century.
  • Sea levels were the highest ever measured. For the seventh year in a row, the global average sea level rose—to about 3.2 inches (8.1 cm) over the past 26 years when the satellite altimetry record began. Global sea level is rising at an average rate of 1.2 inches (3.1 cm) per decade.
  • Sea-surface temperatures near-record high. The globally averaged sea-surface temperatures cooled slightly since their 2016 record, but they were still far above normal. Meanwhile, the deeper ocean has continued to warm year after year.
  • Fires had a record low year. Globally, there was a combined burned area of about 1.2 billion acres (500 million hectares), the lowest since the start of the 1997 record. Regionally, South America and the Northern Hemisphere of Africa each experienced their lowest fire year, while North America and Australia had fire emissions that were higher than normal.
  • The Arctic continues to warm and lose sea ice. The annual mean surface air temperature for the Arctic was the third-warmest on record after 2016 and 2017. The September 2018 sea ice minimum tied as the sixth-lowest on record.
  • The Antarctic was warm too. For the continent as a whole, 2018 was warmer than average. Summer sea ice extent was the second-lowest on record and was below the 1981–2010 average. 
  • A spike in tropical cyclone action. There were 95 named tropical cyclones in 2018, well above the 1981-2010 average of 82. 
  • The world’s glaciers continue melting. Preliminary data indicate the world’s most closely tracked glaciers lost mass for the 30th consecutive year. 

More: Access highlights from the BAMS State of the Climate in 2018 report:

Full report (BAMS)

Permanent link for report materials (NCEI)

Visual highlights (NOAA Climate.gov)