According to NASA and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's annual global analysis report, there were 14 natural disasters that caused at least $1 billion each in damages last year. This includes Hurricane Michael, which caused $25 billion in damages, as well as Hurricane Florence and the California wildfires, which caused $24 billion each. This made 2018 the fourth-costliest year for natural disasters in the U.S. since 1980. Other disasters that were included in the total are a Colorado hail storm in June, a Northeast winter storm in March, Central and Eastern severe weather in mid May, Central and Eastern tornadoes and severe weather in mid July and a Texas hail storm on June 6.
The report also named 2018 the fourth warmest year in a continued warming trend.
Global temperatures in 2018 were 1.5 degrees Fahrenheit (0.83 degrees Celsius) warmer than the 1951 to 1980 mean, according to scientists at NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies (GISS). Globally, 2018's temperatures rank behind those of 2016, 2017 and 2015. The past five years are, collectively, the warmest years in the modern record.
“2018 is yet again an extremely warm year on top of a long-term global warming trend,” said GISS Director Gavin Schmidt.
Since the 1880s, the average global surface temperature has risen about 2 degrees Fahrenheit (1 degree Celsius). This warming has been driven in large part by increased emissions into the atmosphere of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases caused by human activities, according to Schmidt.
Weather dynamics often affect regional temperatures, the report said, so not every region on Earth experienced similar amounts of warming. NOAA found the 2018 annual mean temperature for the contiguous 48 United States was the 14th warmest on record.
Warming trends are strongest in the Arctic region, NASA said, where 2018 saw the continued loss of sea ice. In addition, mass loss from the Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets continued to contribute to sea level rise. Increasing temperatures can also contribute to longer fire seasons and some extreme weather events, according to Schmidt.