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UN: 2022 among eight hottest years on record

The United Nations has confirmed that the past eight years were the hottest since records began, even with the cooling influence of a drawn-out La Nina weather pattern. 

Last year, as the world faced a cascade of unprecedented natural disasters made more likely and deadly by climate change, the average global temperature was about 1.15°C above pre-industrial levels, the World Meteorological Organization said on Thursday.

The US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and NASA released similar 2022 global temperature figures on Thursday and Bill Nelson, head of the US space agency, described them as “alarming.”

The hottest year on record was 2016, followed by 2019 and 2020, the WMO found.

Last year marked the eighth consecutive year that annual global temperatures were at least one degree over the pre-industrial levels seen between 1850 and 1900.

The Paris Agreement, agreed upon by nearly all the world’s nations in 2015, called for capping global warming at 1.5C, which scientists say would limit climate impacts to manageable levels.

But the WMO warned Thursday that “the likelihood of – temporarily – breaching the 1.5C limit… is increasing with time.”

‘Hottest year ever’ for oceans as temperatures hit new record in 2022

Record temperatures

The European Union’s Copernicus climate monitor (C3S) said in its annual report Tuesday that the planet’s polar regions experienced record temperatures last year, as did large swathes of the Middle East, China, central Asia and northern Africa.

Europe endured its second-hottest year ever as France, Britain, Spain and Italy set new average temperature records and heatwaves across the continent were compounded by severe drought conditions, it said.

For the planet as a whole, the WMO said the impact of La Nina, which is expected to end within months, would be “short-lived,” and would not reverse “the long-term warming trend caused by record levels of heat-trapping greenhouse gases in our atmosphere.”

Extreme weather events

The WMO said the trend was clear.

“Since the 1980s, each decade has been warmer than the previous one,” it said.

Gavin Schmidt, director of NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies, said collective action is needed now but “it’s never going to be too late to make better decisions.

“Future warming is a function of future emissions of carbon dioxide,” Schmidt said. “At any point in the future, we can decide to do something that will reduce the emissions and reduce the temperatures in the future.”

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