2022 Broke All Kinds of Climate Records

Overall it was fifth warmest on record, but many places recorded warmest year ever
By Mike L. Ford,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 10, 2023 5:14 PM CST
2022 Broke All Kinds of Climate Records
A woman and child wait at a camp for displaced people amid a drought near Dollow, Somalia on Sept. 20, 2022. This past year has seen a horrific flood that submerged one-third of Pakistan, devastating droughts in Europe and China, a drought-triggered famine in Africa, and deadly heat waves all over.   (AP Photo/Jerome Delay)

Last year shattered all kinds of climatic records, and not in a good way. In parts of western Europe, the Middle East, central Asia, China, and northwest Africa, it was the warmest year on record. Per Axios, that’s a sampling from the EU’s Copernicus Climate Change Service, which found 2022 to be the fifth warmest year overall; furthermore, taken together, the past eight years were the eight warmest on record. Copernicus researchers called 2022 "a year of climate extremes" and warned that the world is perilously close to reaching temperatures 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels, a key limit flagged in the 2015 Paris Agreement, per CNN, and a threshold beyond which many climate scientists warn of dire and irreversible consequences.

In its report, Copernicus notes a rise in atmospheric carbon dioxide and methane concentrations, which are now at the highest levels in the satellite record, not to mention the highest in 2 million years for CO2 and 800,000 years for methane. The list goes on: both polar regions saw record high temps, and Antarctic ice conditions hit record lows; Pakistan and northern India endured an extreme heatwave followed by a highly destructive, deadly monsoon; likewise, much of China saw extreme heat and drought. It seems La Nina was one saving grace that might have kept surface temps down a little, but that phenomenon appears to be waning, and El Nino may soon return, bringing the opposite effect.

North and South America are not mentioned in the Copernicus report, but as Time reports, climate-related disasters cost the US $165 billion last year once one adds up the wildfires, floods, mudslides, droughts, and Hurricane Ian, the third costliest storm in US history. The trend may continue in 2023, as Jan. 1 was the single warmest January day since 1940. The New York Times reports what Ukraine and its allies certainly see as one silver lining in the fact that a warm winter may dull one of Vladimir Putin’s most potent weapons: access to Russia's natural gas supply. (Read more climate change stories.)

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