Earth’s average surface temperature in 2022 tied with 2015 as the fifth warmest year on record, according to an analysis by US space agency NASA, which termed the situation as “alarming”.
The global temperatures in 2022 were 1.6-degree Fahrenheit (0.89-degree Celsius) above the average for NASA’s baseline period (1951-1980), scientists from NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies (GISS) in New York reported.
“This warming trend is alarming. Our warming climate is already making a mark: Forest fires are intensifying; hurricanes are getting stronger; droughts are wreaking havoc and sea levels are rising,” said NASA Administrator Bill Nelson.
The past nine years have been the warmest since modern record-keeping began in 1880.
This means that Earth in 2022 was about 2-degree Fahrenheit (or about 1.11-degree Celsius) warmer than the late 19th century average.
“NASA is deepening our commitment to do our part in addressing climate change. Our Earth System Observatory will provide state-of-the-art data to support our climate modelling, analysis and predictions to help humanity confront our planet’s changing climate,” Nelson added.
Human-driven greenhouse gas emissions have rebounded following a short-lived dip in 2020 due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
Recently, NASA scientists, as well as international scientists, determined that carbon dioxide emissions were the highest on record in 2022.
NASA also identified some super-emitters of methane – another powerful greenhouse gas – using the Earth Surface Mineral Dust Source Investigation instrument that was launched to the International Space Station last year.
“The reason for the warming trend is that human activities continue to pump enormous amounts of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere, and the long-term planetary impacts will also continue,” said Gavin Schmidt, Director of GISS, NASA’s leading centre for climate modelling.
The Arctic region continues to experience the strongest warming trends – close to four times the global average – according to a GISS research presented at the 2022 annual meeting of the American Geophysical Union, as well as a separate study.
Several factors can affect the average temperature in any given year. For example, 2022 was one of the warmest on record despite a third consecutive year of La Nina conditions in the tropical Pacific Ocean.
NASA scientists estimate that La Nina’s cooling influence may have lowered global temperatures slightly (about 0.11-degree Fahrenheit or 0.06-degree Celsius) from what the average would have been under more typical ocean conditions.
A separate, independent analysis by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) concluded that the global surface temperature for 2022 was the sixth highest since 1880.