Hellish: Global warming is well and truly a reality, with 2018 clocking in record losses from natural disasters. | Image credit: BusinessInsider

2018 was the fourth warmest year, confirms the latest assessment

2018 was the fourth warmest year on record after 2016, 2017 and 2015 driven by manmade greenhouse gases, according to the latest research by European Union’s Copernicus Climate Change Service.  The first global assessment based on full-year data said greenhouse gas emissions increased in 2018 with average world surface air temperatures at 14.7 Celsius in 2018, just 0.2C off the highest. Scientists said 2019 is also expected to be hot.

The Copernicus report confirms the U.N.’s World Meteorological Organization (WMO) predictions in November that 2018 would be fourth warmest. The WMO will issue its own estimate for 2018 temperatures in coming weeks, also comprising data compiled by U.S., British and Japanese agencies.

“Dramatic climatic events like the warm and dry summer in large parts of Europe or the increasing temperature around the Arctic regions are alarming signs to all of us,” said Jean-Noël Thépaut, head of Copernicus. 2018 witnessed heatwaves from Australia to North Africa, extreme wildfires in California and Greece, and worst flooding in Kerala since the 1920s.

Heating of oceans “equivalent to an atomic bomb per second”

The latest analysis of rising sea temperatures by scientists at the Oxford University has been compared to the equivalent of one atomic bomb explosion per second for the past 150 years.
Scientists said, over 90% of the heat generated by man-made greenhouse gas emissions has been trapped by the seas, with only a small percentage heating the air, land and ice caps respectively.

The ocean heat increases sea-levels and intensifies hurricanes and typhoons. Scientists said, the total heat taken up by the oceans over the past 150 years was about 1,000 times the annual energy use of the entire global population. The research, published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, has combined measurements of the surface temperature of the ocean since 1871 with computer models of ocean circulation.

Cyclone Pabuk: Tourist islands hit by Thailand’s worst storm in 3 decades

Thailand’s first tropical storm in three decades, Pabuk, has hit several popular tourist spots, triggering massive evacuations and leaving nearly 10,000 tourists stranded. The storm shut down two airports on the mainland and forced ferry services to halt operations.

Chile’s wildfires to double in 2019, Insurers say costs of natural disasters soaring

Chile’s government has warned about a spike in wildfires in 2019, warning that 70,000 hectares (twice the area gutted last year) could be affected by July 2019 due to strong winds, low humidity and high ambient temperatures. Insurers too are expecting a spike in wildfires because of climate change, with Munich Re stating that forest fire insurance costs have jumped to very high levels. 2018’s California forest fires, for instance, caused damages worth $16.5 billion and was the year’s most expensive natural disaster.

Antarctic sea ice is ‘astonishingly’ low

The largest ice shelf of the world in Antartica is witnessing ice-free season in its waters, a month ahead of schedule. The massive (size of France) frozen area of freshwater ice protects the West Antarctic Ice Sheet from collapsing into the sea. However, 2019’s ice-free season, happening more frequently over the recent years, took place on January 1 – the earliest ever in history. In a business-as-usual greenhouse gas emissions scenario, ice shelves all across West Antarctica could melt away within just decades.

Extreme chill destroys winter crops as ground frost intensifies even in southern India

Temperatures falling below 10 degrees over the last two weeks have damaged the wheat, gram and vegetable crops in many districts of southern India due to denser ground frost – which blocks transpiration by plants. The affected districts include Munnar, Kannimala, Chenduvara and Chittuvara in Kerala, and the hills of Nilgiris, Coimbatore and Dindigul districts in Tamil Nadu.

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