Planet Earth plagued by extreme weather events in 2022

Although 2022 has not been the warmest year ever due to the presence of La Niña, it will not reverse the trend of the last 8 years of having been the warmest ever recorded, nor the record levels of greenhouse gases present in the atmosphere

by Lorenzo Ciotti
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Planet Earth plagued by extreme weather events in 2022

A report published by the World Meteorological Organization highlights how extreme weather events in 2022, such as floods, heat and drought, have hit many parts of the planet hard. Although 2022 has not been the warmest year ever due to the presence of La Niña, it will not reverse the trend of the last 8 years of having been the warmest ever recorded, nor the record levels of greenhouse gases present in the atmosphere.

WMO Secretary-General, Prof. Petteri Taalas, explained: "This year we have faced several dramatic weather disasters: a third of Pakistan has been flooded, resulting in severe economic losses and human casualties. Record-breaking heatwaves have been observed in China, Europe, North and South America Long-lasting drought in the Horn of Africa threatens a humanitarian catastrophe." According to C3S's ERA5 dataset, the world experienced the fifth warmest year on record in 2022, but only by a very narrow margin.

Due to such a narrow margin it is likely that other widely used temperature datasets may classify this year differently. So far, the warmest years globally have been 2016, 2020, 2019 and 2017, respectively. Temperatures in Europe last year were the second warmest on record.

According to the C3S ERA5 dataset, several countries in western and southern Europe recorded the highest annual temperatures since at least 1950. In this region, similar results have already been reported by national agencies based on preliminary or final data.

Summer in Europe was by far the warmest on record, with the previous warmest summer dating back to 2021. Autumn was the third warmest on record, surpassed only by 2020 and 2006. Winter temperatures in the 2022 were about 1°C above average.

Planet Earth plagued by extreme weather events in 2022

Annual global temperature forecasts from the UK Met Office indicate that the average global temperature for 2023 will be between 1.08°C and 1.32°C (with a central estimate of 1.20°C) above the average of the pre-industrial period (1850-1900).

The UK set a new national record on 19 July when the temperature surpassed 40C for the first time. All this was accompanied by a persistent and damaging drought and wild fires. Greenhouse gases are just one of the climate indicators that have reached record levels.

Even in the sea, ocean heat content and acidification are at very high levels. The rate of sea level rise has doubled since 1993. Since January 2020, it has increased by almost 10 mm. In the last 2 years there has been 10% of the overall sea level rise since satellite measurements began almost 30 years ago.

2022 was an exceptionally heavy year for the glaciers of the European Alps and the Greenland ice sheet lost mass for the 26th consecutive year and for the first time in September it rained (rather than snowed) on the summit.