2022 was hot and not in a good way.
If you found yourself sweating more last year, it’s because 2022 is confirmed to be one of the warmest years on record, according to the United Nations’ World Meteorological Organization (WMO).
What’s the cause?
The temperature continued to rise because of greenhouse gases that trap heat in the atmosphere, the UN agency said in a statement.
The past eight years are the warmest on earth, and 2022 was ranked either 5th or 6th, according to the different international temperature datasets the WMO consolidated.
But the WMO noted that “the differences in temperature between the 4th and 8th warmest year are relatively small.”
The human factor
While the COVID-19 pandemic brought down greenhouse gas emissions due to human activity as a result of the strict lockdowns, this effect was short-lived, according to the National Aeronautics and Space Administration.
“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,” Gavin Schmidt, director of NASA’s climate modeling center, said in a statement.
NASA and other international scientists found that carbon dioxide emissions were the highest on record in 2022.
How hot was 2022?
According to the WMO, last year’s global temperature was about 1.5 degrees celsius above the pre-industrial levels.
Data show that it is the 8th straight year when the increase reached at least 1°C above pre-industrial levels, it said.
The increase was actually tempered by the La Niña event, or the cooling of ocean surface temperatures, it noted.
“But this cooling impact will be short-lived and will not reverse the long-term warming trend caused by record levels of heat-trapping greenhouse gases in our atmosphere,” it said.
The trend of warming global temperatures is expected to continue, said the WMO.
From 2013 to 2022, the 10-year average temperature was 1.14 °C above the 1850-1900 pre-industrial baseline, it noted.
Global warming contributes to extreme and destructive weather, which were seen in 2022.
WMO Secretary-General Prof. Petteri Taalas noted that dramatic weather disasters last year killed people and destroyed livelihoods.
“Large areas of Pakistan were flooded, with major economic losses and human casualties. Record breaking heatwaves have been observed in China, Europe, North and South America. The long-lasting drought in the Horn of Africa threatens a humanitarian catastrophe,” Taalas said.
In the Philippines, supertyphoon Karding that hit the country in September caused more than P3 billion worth of damage and killed 12 people.
Taalas said there is a need for nations to be better prepared for extreme weather events.
Only half of 193 UN members have proper early warning services, he noted. The lack of these services could lead to more deaths and property damage, he added.
Some nations also need to upgrade their weather observation systems, he further said.
Close to the limit
There is an international effort to keep global temperature low.
The Paris Agreement is an international treaty to pursue efforts reduce the effect of climate change by holding the increase in the global average temperature to well below 2°C above pre-industrial levels while pursuing efforts to limit the temperature increase to 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels.
But the WMO said that based on the average global temperatures in the past eight years, there is an increasing likelihood that the world will temporarily breach the 1.5°C limit of the Paris Agreement.