While 2018 was the fourth-warmest year on record, British meteorologists are predicting the next five years will be much hotter, maybe even record-breaking. Two US agencies, the United Kingdom Met Office, and the World Meteorological Organization analyzed global temperatures in slightly different ways, but each came to the same conclusion Wednesday: 2018 was the fourth-warmest year on record behind 2016, 2015, and 2017. The US government's National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said 2018's average temperature was 58.42 degrees Fahrenheit, which is 1.42 degrees warmer than the 20th-century average. Records go back to 1880.
NASA and NOAA climate scientists said even though 2018 was a tad cooler than the three previous years, it was mostly due to random weather variations. "Never mind the little wiggles from year to year. The trend is going relentlessly up, and it will continue to do so," Potsdam Institute climate scientist Stefan Rahmstorf tells the AP. "Those who live in denial of this fact are in denial of physics." Using computer simulations, the British weather office forecasts that the next five years will average somewhere between 58.51 and 59.49 degrees. That would be warmer than the last four years. Outside scientists, such as Natalie Mahowald of Cornell University, said the forecast is consistent with what researchers know about warming and natural variability.
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