(DENVER) — Earth fever persisted last year, not quite peaking, but still in the top five or six hottest on record, government agencies reported Thursday.
But expect record warm years soon, likely within the next two years due to “relentless” climate change from burning coal, oil and gas, US government scientists have said.
Despite a La Nina, an equatorial Pacific cooling that slightly reduces global average temperatures, the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration calculates that the 2022 global average temperature was 58.55 degrees (14.76 degrees Celsius), ranking sixth hottest on record. NOAA does not include the polar regions due to data issues, but will soon.
If the Arctic – which is warming three to four times faster than the rest of the world – and Antarctica are taken into account, NOAA said it would be the fifth warmest. NASA, which has long factored the Arctic into its global calculations, said 2022 is essentially tied for fifth with 2015. Four other science agencies or science groups around the world rank the year fifth or sixth. rank.
NOAA and NASA records date back to 1880.
Berkeley Earth, a nonprofit group of independent scientists, said it was the fifth hottest year on record and noted that for 28 countries it was the hottest year on record. registered, including China, the United Kingdom, Spain, France, Germany and New Zealand.
Another group, whose satellite calculations tend to be colder than other science teams, said it was the seventh warmest year.
Last year was slightly warmer than 2021, but overall science teams say the big problem is that the past eight years, starting in 2015, have been a notch above warmer temperatures than the world had known. The eight years are more than 1.8 degrees (1 degree Celsius) warmer than pre-industrial times, NOAA and NASA said. Last year was 2 degrees (1.1 degrees Celsius) warmer than the mid-19th century, NASA said.
“The last eight years have clearly been warmer than previous years,” said NOAA analysis branch chief Russ Vose.
In a human body, an extra 2 degrees Fahrenheit is considered a fever, but Renee McPherson, professor of meteorology at the University of Oklahoma, who was not part of any of the study teams, said the heat overall is actually worse than the equivalent of a planetary fever because fevers can be treated to come down quickly.
“You can’t take a pill for this, so fixes aren’t easy,” McPherson said. “It’s more what you consider a chronic disease like cancer.”
Like a fever, “every tenth of a degree counts and things are falling apart and that’s what we’re seeing,” said Bernadette Woods Placky, chief meteorologist at Climate Central.
The likelihood of the world exceeding the 1.5 degrees Celsius (2.7 degrees Fahrenheit) warming threshold that the world adopted in 2015 is increasing every year, the World Meteorological Organization has said. The United Nations weather agency said the past 10 years have averaged 1.14 degrees Celsius warmer than pre-industrial times.
Both Vose and NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies director Gavin Schmidt said there are signs of accelerating warming, but the data isn’t strong enough to be sure. sure. But the overall warming trend is rock solid, they said.
“Since the mid-1970s you’ve seen this relentless increase in temperature and it’s totally robust to all the different methodologies,” Schmidt said.
La Nina, a natural process that alters weather around the world, is in its third consecutive year. Schmidt calculated that last year’s La Nina cooled the global temperature by about a tenth of a degree (0.06 degrees Celsius) and that last year was the warmest La Nina year on record.
“Today’s La Nina years are not yesterday’s La Nina years,” said North Carolina state climatologist Kathie Dello. “Historically, we could count on La Nina to lower the global thermostat. Now the heat trapping gases are keeping the temperature high and giving us another top 10 hottest year on record.
With La Nina likely dissipating and a possible El Nino on the way — adding to the warming — Schmidt said this year will likely be warmer than 2022. And next year, he said, do be careful if there is an El Nino.
“That would suggest that 2024 would be the hottest year on record by far,” Schmidt said in an interview with The Associated Press.
Scientists say around 90% of the heat trapped by greenhouse gases goes to the upper 6,561 feet of the ocean (2,000 meters), and figures released Wednesday show 2022 has been another record year for ocean heat.
“There’s a very good link between patterns of ocean warming, stratification, and then the weather we experience in our daily lives on land,” including stronger hurricanes and rising seas, the co-writer said. study author John Abraham of the University of St. Thomas.
In the United States, global warming first made headlines when Schmidt’s predecessor, climatologist James Hansen, testified to worsening warming in 1988. That year was to be the most hot at the time.
Now 1988 is the 28th hottest year on record.
The last year the Earth was colder than the 20th century average was 1976, according to NOAA.
But scientists say average temperatures aren’t what really affects people. What is hitting and hurting people is how warming is making extreme weather events, such as heat waves, floods, droughts and storms, worse or more frequent, or both, they said. declared.
“These trends should concern everyone,” said Natalie Mahowald, a climatologist at Cornell University, who was not part of the study teams.
WMO Secretary General Petteri Taalas said in 2022 that these extremes “compromise health, food, energy and water security and infrastructure. Large areas of Pakistan were flooded, with significant economic and human loss. Record heat waves were seen in China, Europe, North and South America. The long-lasting drought in the Horn of Africa threatens to cause a humanitarian disaster.
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