The global average temperature in 2022 was 1.15 degrees Celsius above the average between 1850 and 1900. In addition, since 2015 the eight warmest years since there are records (1850) have already been counted.
In its report on the ‘State of the World Climate 2022’, presented yesterday, the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) analyzes fundamental climate indicators, such as temperature, greenhouse gases, sea level rise, acidification and heat in the oceans, sea ice and glaciers and which also highlights the impacts of climate change and its repercussions on the planet. Specifically, it points out that 2022 was among the fifth or sixth warmest year globally – it was the hottest in history in Spain and in Europe – even despite a triple episode of ‘La Niña’, something that only It has happened three times in the last 50 years.
The work of the WMO explains how droughts, floods or heat waves affect more and more areas and how their economic and social costs are increasing.
Specifically, the global average temperature of the last eight years has been the highest ever recorded; sea level and ocean heat are at record levels, and this trend will continue for “many centuries”; that the extent of Antarctic sea ice is receding to historical lows or that the melting of glaciers in Europe has broken records, and that floods, droughts and heat waves are multiplying at the same time in communities on almost the entire planet. In short, the WMO assures that “from the tops of the mountains to the depths of the oceans, climate change continued to advance in 2022” and caused losses worth “many billions of dollars”.
The State of the World Climate in 2022 explains how the changes on a planetary scale, on land, sea and atmosphere are caused by the record levels of greenhouse gases in a period 2015-2022, which is already the eight warmest years on record. has constancy
Melting glaciers and sea level rise, which reached record levels again in 2022, will continue for thousands of years.
In a statement, the Secretary General of the WMO, Petteri Taalas, warned at a press conference that greenhouse gas emissions “continue to increase and the climate continues to change”, while populations around the world continue to being seriously affected by extreme weather and climate events.
Thus, he recalled the persistent drought in East Africa, the unprecedented rains that hit Pakistan and the record-breaking heat waves in China and Europe that affected tens of millions of people, caused food insecurity, prompted massive migrations and caused losses and billions of dollars worth of damage, all in 2022.
However, he added that collaboration between United Nations agencies – such as the WMO – has proven to be “extremely effective” in dealing with the humanitarian consequences of extreme weather and climate events, especially regarding the reduction of mortality and the economic losses that they entail.
Taalas has praised the objective of the United Nations initiative ‘Early Warnings for All’ – launched in 2022 by the UN Secretary General, Antonio Guterres – which is to fill the current capacity gaps to ensure that all Earth’s inhabitants are protected by early warning services.
Thus, he specified that currently close to 100 countries lack adequate meteorological services, which is why he sees it as “necessary” to improve all observation networks and invest in the capacities of hydrological, climate and early warning services.
On a social level, the document reflects on how, in addition to climate indicators, growing malnutrition has been aggravated by the combined effects of hydrometeorological hazards and the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic, as well as by violence and protracted conflicts.
In this sense, the WMO estimates 95 million new displaced people throughout 2022 as a result of dangerous climatic and meteorological phenomena. It also affects how ecosystems and the environment suffer from the recurring effects of climate change, for example in the flowering times of trees or the migration of birds.
The work is released on the eve of World Earth Day, regarding which Guterres has once again stressed that the “necessary instruments, knowledge and solutions” exist, but it is necessary to “act more quickly” and accelerate climate action. with “stronger and faster” cuts in emissions to limit global temperature rise to 1.5°C.
For Guterres, it is also necessary to “radically increase” investments in adaptation and resilience, particularly for the most vulnerable countries and communities, which are “those that have contributed the least to the crisis.”
Regarding the concentrations of greenhouse gases, the three main ones (carbon dioxide, methane and nitrous oxide) reached their highest levels ever observed in 2021 and in particular, the annual increase in methane concentration from 2020 to 2021 it was the highest since records exist.
The glaciers for which there are long-term observations reduced their average thickness by more than 1.3 meters from October 2021 to October 2022, but also six of the ten years with the most negative mass balance on record , since 1950, occurred from 2015.
The same pattern followed in Antarctica, where sea ice decreased to 1.92 million square kilometers on February 25, 2022, the lowest level on record, and was continuously below average for the rest of the year. .
Similarly, the rate of warming of the oceans has been particularly high in the last 20 years and the global mean sea level continued to rise in 2022 to a new record high.
In East Africa, drought wreaked havoc, with below-average rainfall in five consecutive rainy seasons, something that had never happened in the last 40 years, leading to severe famine.
Europe suffered unprecedented heat waves during the summer, with “exceptionally” dry conditions that left an excess mortality of more than 15,000 people between Spain, Germany, the United Kingdom, France and Portugal. Meanwhile, China recorded its longest and longest-lasting heat wave, from mid-June to late August.
The lengthy report also analyzes the social and economic damage, the social effects in terms of famine, food shortages, displaced people — Somalia alone hosted almost 35,000 refugees and asylum seekers from areas affected by drought such as Ethiopia or Kenya– .
Nor is nature free from these effects. For example, in Japan, the cherry blossoms, documented since the year 801, have been brought forward since the end of the 19th century and in 2021 the date of full bloom was March 26, the earliest recorded in more than 1,200 years, and birds migration in Europe reflect mismatches in the last five decades during the spring.