2022 fifth or sixth warmest year on record: WMO

The global mean temperature in 2022 was 1.15 degrees Celsius above the pre-industrial (1850-1900) average, making it the "fifth or sixth" warmest year on record despite the La Nina conditions
2022 fifth or sixth warmest year on record: WMO

New Delhi | The global mean temperature in 2022 was 1.15 degrees Celsius above the pre-industrial (1850-1900) average, making it the "fifth or sixth" warmest year on record despite the La Nina conditions, the World Meteorological Organisation (WMO) said in a report on Friday.

The eight years from 2015 were the warmest ever and the concentrations of the three main greenhouse gases -- carbon dioxide, methane and nitrous oxide -- touched record highs in 2021, the latest year for which consolidated global values are available (1984–2021), the report titled "State of the Global Climate 2022" said.

"Antarctic sea ice fell to its lowest extent on record and the melting of some European glaciers was, literally, off the charts," it added.

Keeping the global temperature rise below the 1.5 degrees limit (as compared to pre-industrial levels) is important to avoid the worst impacts of climate change.

The WMO said the 2022 pre-monsoon period was exceptionally hot in India and Pakistan.

Pakistan witnessed its hottest March and hottest April on record, with both months having national mean temperatures more than four degrees Celsius above the long-term average.

In India, grain yields were reduced by the extreme heat and there were a number of forest fires, particularly in Uttarakhand.

"Heatwaves in the 2022 pre-monsoon season in India and Pakistan caused a decline in crop yields. This, combined with the banning of wheat exports and restrictions on rice exports in India after the start of the conflict in Ukraine, has threatened the availability, access to and stability of staple foods within international food markets and posed high risks to countries already affected by shortages of staple foods," the report read.

India also reported significant flooding at various stages during the monsoon season, particularly in the northeast, in June. Around 700 people died due to floods and landslides, and another 900 from lightning strikes. Floods also triggered 6.63 lakh displacements in Assam, the WMO observed.

Heavy monsoon rains caused severe flooding and landslides in Pakistan, leading to a spread of water-borne diseases, with the greatest impacts in the most vulnerable and food-insecure regions of the country's southern and central parts.

More than 1,700 people died, along with 9.36 lakh head of livestock. Large areas of croplands were affected and rainfall-triggered flooding and landslides substantially disrupted transportation and building infrastructure.

"While greenhouse gas emissions continue to rise and the climate continues to change, populations worldwide continue to be gravely impacted by extreme weather and climate events. For example, in 2022, continuous drought in East Africa, record-breaking rainfall in Pakistan and record-breaking heatwaves in China and Europe affected tens of millions, drove food insecurity, boosted mass migration, and cost billions of dollars in loss and damage," WMO Secretary-General Professor Petteri Taalas said.

"However, collaboration amongst UN agencies has proven to be very effective in addressing humanitarian impacts induced by extreme weather and climate events, especially in reducing associated mortality and economic losses. The UN's 'Early Warnings for All Initiative' aims to fill the existing capacity gap to ensure that every person on earth is covered by early warning services," he added.

At the moment, about 100 countries do not have adequate weather services in place. Achieving this ambitious task requires improvements in observation networks and investments in early warning, hydrological and climate service capacities.

A set of glaciers being monitored for a long time had an average ice loss of 1.18 metres water equivalent, much larger than the average over the last decade.

The report said the six most negative mass balance years on record (from 1950 to 2022) have occurred since 2015. The cumulative mass balance since 1970 (the total amount of ice lost from the glaciers since that time) amounts to more than 26 metres water equivalent.

Mass balance is a measure of change in the mass of glaciers over time and is calculated by measuring the amount of ice accumulated and subtracting the amount of ice that has melted.

Around 90 per cent of the energy trapped in the climate system by greenhouse gases goes into the oceans. The ocean heat content, which measures this gain in energy, reached a record high in 2022.

Despite three consecutive years of La Niña conditions, 58 per cent of the ocean surface experienced at least one marine heatwave in 2022. In contrast, only 25 per cent of the ocean surface experienced a marine cold spell, the WMO said.

The global mean sea level is at a record high, having risen by 4.62 mm per year from 2013 to 2022, double the rate between 1993 and 2022.

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