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2022, the fifth warmest year on record?

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Earth’s average surface temperature in 2022 tied with 2015 for the fifth-warmest on record, according to a NASA analysis. Continuing the long-term warming trend of the planet, global temperatures in 2022 were 0.89 degrees Celsius above the average for NASA’s reference period (1951-1980).

This was announced by scientists from NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Research (GISS).

“This warming trend is alarming,” warns Bill Nelson, NASA administrator. “Our warming climate is already making its mark: wildfires are intensifying; hurricanes are getting stronger; droughts are wreaking havoc and sea levels are rising.”

The last nine years have been the warmest since modern records began in 1880. This means that Earth in 2022 was about 1.11 degrees Celsius warmer than the late 19th century average.

“The reason for the warming trend is that human activities continue to emit enormous amounts of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere; and long-term planetary impacts will also continue,” explains Gavin Schmidt, director of GISS, NASA’s main climate modeling center.

Human-sourced greenhouse gas emissions have recovered after a short-lived drop in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Recently, NASA scientists, as well as researchers outside the United States, determined that carbon dioxide emissions in 2022 have been the highest on record. NASA also identified some super emitters of methane — another powerful greenhouse gas — using the EMIT instrument, which was launched to the International Space Station months ago.

The Arctic region continues to experience the strongest warming trends, nearly four times the global average, according to new GISS research presented at the 2022 annual meeting of the American Geophysical Union and also according to another study.

Communities around the world are experiencing the impacts that scientists believe are related to the warming of the atmosphere and ocean. Climate change has intensified precipitation and tropical storms, aggravated the severity of droughts, and increased the impact of storm surges. Last year brought torrential monsoon rains that devastated Pakistan and a persistent mega-drought in the American Southwest. In September, Hurricane Ian became one of the most powerful and damaging hurricanes to hit the continental United States.

In almost all parts of the world, global warming is clearly felt. (Photo: NASA)

Monitoring a changing planet

NASA’s global temperature analysis is drawn from data collected by Antarctic weather stations and research stations, as well as from ship-mounted instruments and ocean buoys. NASA scientists analyze these measurements to account for uncertainties in the data and to maintain consistent methods for calculating differences in global mean surface temperature for each year. These ground-based measurements of surface temperature are consistent with satellite data collected since 2002 by NASA’s Aqua satellite and with other estimates.

NASA uses the period from 1951 to 1980 as a baseline, or reference, to measure how global temperatures change over time. That reference period includes weather patterns such as those imposed by La Niña and El Niño weather events, as well as unusually hot or cold years due to other factors, ensuring that it encompasses natural variations in Earth’s temperature.

Many factors can affect the average temperature in a given year. For example, 2022 was one of the warmest on record despite a third consecutive year of cooling effect imposed by La Niña in the tropical Pacific Ocean. NASA scientists estimate that the cooling influence of La Niña may have reduced global temperatures slightly (about 0.06 degrees Celsius) from what would have been average under more typical ocean conditions.

A separate and independent analysis by the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) found that the global surface temperature by 2022 was the sixth warmest since 1880. NOAA scientists use extensive They use the same raw temperature data in their analysis and have a different reference period (1901-2000) and methodology. Although the rankings for specific years may differ slightly between the records, they are in broad agreement and both reflect continued warming over the long term. (Source: NASA)

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