October 2022 was Earth’s fourth-warmest October since record-keeping began in 1880, NOAA’s National Centers for Environmental Information (NCEI) reported November 15. NASA rated October as the fifth-warmest on record, behind 2016, 1.23 degrees Celsius (2.21°F) above the 1880-1920 period – its best estimate for when preindustrial temperatures last occurred. The European Copernicus Climate Change Service and the Japan Meteorological Agency rated October 2022 as the third-warmest October on record. Such minor differences in the agencies’ rankings can result from the different ways they treat data-sparse regions such as the Arctic.

Land areas had their second-warmest October on record in 2022, land areas in the Northern Hemisphere had their warmest October on record, and global ocean temperatures were the fifth-warmest on record, according to NOAA. Europe had its warmest October on record; Africa, its third-warmest; and Asia and North America, their sixth-warmest. Oceania and South America each had a warmer-than-average October, but the month did not rank among their top 10 warmest on record.

The year-to-date global surface temperature is the sixth-highest on record, and 2022 is 99% likely to end up as the sixth-warmest year on record, according to NOAA.

Figure 1. Departure of temperature from average for October 2022, the fourth-warmest October for the globe since record-keeping began in 1880, according to NOAA. Parts of western and central Europe, western North America, and Africa experienced record-high October temperatures. No areas experienced record cold. (Image credit: NOAA/NCEI)

In the U.S., it was the 29th-warmest October since records began in 1895. Washington state reported its warmest October on record, and Maine, Oregon, California, and Idaho all reported a top-10 warmest October. The month capped off what now ranks as the third-warmest May-October period in contiguous U.S. history; the year-to-date period of January-October has been the 13th-warmest on record.

October was quite dry in the U.S., ranking as the 22nd-driest October on record, with new hotspots of drought developing in the Ohio Valley and Florida Panhandle. The year-to-date period of January-October has been the 15th-driest on record. As of November 1, 62.8% of the contiguous U.S. was experiencing moderate or greater drought, with drought coverage at 85.3% for abnormally dry or drier conditions – the largest such area since the U.S. Drought Monitor was established in 2000.

The year-to-date global surface temperature is the sixth-highest on record, and the year 2022 is virtually certain to rank among the 10 warmest years on record, according to NOAA. However, it is less than 5% likely to rank in the top five, and there is less than a 0.1% chance that 2022 will rank as the warmest year on record, largely because La Niña conditions very likely will prevail for the rest of the year (more below).

Figure 2. Departure of sea surface temperature from average in the benchmark Niño 3.4 region of the eastern tropical Pacific (5°N-5°S, 170°W-120°W). In this analysis, temperatures have ranged from 0.8 to 1.1 degree Celsius below average since mid-October. (Image credit: Tropical Tidbits)

An unusually long La Niña continues

La Niña conditions continued during October and are expected to persist through the Northern Hemisphere winter (76% chance during December – February). Thereafter, a transition to neutral conditions is predicted (a 57% chance on neutral conditions in February-April 2023), NOAA reported in its November monthly discussion of the state of the El Niño/Southern Oscillation, or ENSO. The odds of El Niño conditions are no more than 6% through the Northern Hemisphere spring of 2023, increasing to 37% for the June – August period.

Over the past month, sea-surface temperatures in the benchmark Niño 3.4 region of the eastern tropical Pacific (5°N-5°S, 170°W-120°W) were 0.8-1.1 degree Celsius below average, as analyzed at tropicaltidbits.com. The range for “weak” La Niña conditions is 0.5-1.0 degree Celsius below average; the range for “moderate” La Niña conditions is 1.0-1.5 degrees Celsius below average.

A third consecutive northern winter with La Niña, as now expected for 2022-23, will be unusual but not unprecedented: Three-year La Niña sequences occurred in 1973-76 and 1998-2001. There have been no four-year La Niña sequences in NOAA data extending back to 1950 – or even in the longer Ensemble Oceanic NINO Index compiled by Eric Webb that extends back another century, to 1850 – although the NOAA data shows La Niña was present in five out of six northern winters from 1970 to 1976.

The impact of the current La Niña event has been boosted by a negative Pacific Decadal Oscillation, or PDO. The PDO is an index of sea-surface temperatures across the northeast and tropical Pacific Ocean that reflects some of the circulation aspects of the El Niño-Southern Oscillation. The PDO can swing sharply from month-to-month, but usually it leans positive (warm) or negative (cool) for a few years at a time. Nearly every month since 2017 has had a negative PDO; October’s value was the fifth-lowest for any October since 2000, and the 18th-lowest October value in NOAA data going back to 1854. When the PDO is negative, La Niña’s impacts often are more pronounced.

Arctic sea ice: 8th-lowest October extent on record

Arctic sea ice extent during October 2022 was the eighth-lowest in the 44-year satellite record, and the highest October extent since 2014, according to the National Snow and Ice Data Center, NSIDC.

Antarctic sea ice extent in October was the second-lowest on record for October. Antarctic sea ice extent tended to increase slightly from the 1980s through the 2010s, but it has decreased notably from 2017 onward, whereas arctic sea ice extent has decreased more consistently and dramatically over the past 40 years.

The 2022 melt season in Greenland ranked 19th for experiencing the most surface area melting in the 43-year satellite record.

Notable global heat and cold marks for October 2022

The information below is courtesy of Maximiliano Herrera. Follow him on Twitter: @extremetemps.

– Hottest October temperature in the Northern Hemisphere: 44.9°C (112.8°F) at Mehran, Iran, October 6;
– Coldest October temperature in the Northern Hemisphere: -41.1°C (-42.0°F) at Summit, Greenland, October 20;
– Hottest October temperature in the Southern Hemisphere: 46.0°C (114.8°F) at Moti, Eswatini, October 9;
– Coldest October temperature in the Southern Hemisphere: -74.1°C (-101.4°F) at Dome Fuji, Antarctica, October 2;
– Highest 2022 average temperature to date (Jan.-Oct.) in the Southern Hemisphere: 29.5°C (85.1°F) at Surabya AP, Indonesia; and
– Highest 2022 average temperature to date (Jan.-Oct.) in the Northern Hemisphere: 32.6°C (90.7°F) at Makkah, Saudi Arabia.

Major weather stations in October: two all-time heat records

Among global stations with a record of at least 40 years, two set (not just tied) an all-time heat record in October:

Jayapura Airport (Indonesia) max. 36.9°C, October 4; and
Balsas (Brazil) max. 41.3°C, October 14.

10 all-time national/territorial heat records set or tied in 2022

No nations set or tied an all-time reliably measured national heat record in October. The total of such records is ten in 2022 (plus one, if considering that Taiwan beat their all-time heat record in two separate months):

Paraguay:  45.6°C (114.1°F) at Sombrero Hovy, January 1;
Australia:  50.7°C (123.3°F) at Onslow AP, January 13 (tie);
Uruguay:  44.0°C (111.2°F) at Florida, January 14 (tie);
Vatican City: 40.8°C (105.4°F), June 28;
United Kingdom: 40.3°C (104.5°F) at Coningsby, July 19;
Jersey (UK dependency): 37.9°C (100.2°F) at Mason St. Louis, July 18;
Taiwan: 41.4°C (106.5°F) at Zhuoxi, July 22; beaten on August 21, with 41.6°C at Fuyuan;
Hong Kong: 39.0°C (102.2°F) at Sheng Shui, July 24 (tie); and
Dominica: 36.3°C (97.3°F) at Canefield, September 12; and
Barbados: 35.5°C (95.9°F) at Bridgetown, September (unspecified date).

In addition, all-time heat records were set in July for all three of the Great Britain countries that are part of the United Kingdom:

England:  40.3 °C (104.5 °F) at Coningsby, July 19
Wales:  37.1 °C (98.8 °F) at Hawarden, July 18
Scotland:  34.8 °C (94.6 °F) at Charterhall, July 19

Two all-time national/territorial cold records set or tied in 2022

As of the end of October, two nations or territories had set or tied an all-time national cold record:

Montenegro: -33.4°C (-28.1°F) at Kosanica, January 25; and
Myanmar: -6.0°C (21.2°F) at Hakha, January 29 (tie).

58 additional monthly national/territorial heat records beaten or tied as of the end of October

In addition to the ten all-time national/territorial records listed above (plus the double record set in Taiwan), 58 nations or territories have set monthly all-time heat records in 2022, for a total of 69 monthly all-time records:

– January (11): Mexico, USA, Croatia, Liechtenstein, Moldova, Comoros, Mayotte, Maldives, Dominica, Equatorial Guinea, Montenegro;
– February (2): Papua New Guinea, Pakistan;
– March (3): Myanmar, Pakistan, Mauritius;
– April (3): British Indian Ocean Territories, Hong Kong, Chad;
– May (6): Chad, Morocco, Liechtenstein, Andorra, Vatican City, Mauritius;
– June (13): Saba, Jersey, Switzerland, Poland, Czech Republic, Japan, Tunisia, Slovenia, Croatia, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Slovakia;
– July (7): New Caledonia, Andorra, Portugal, Ireland, Denmark, Paraguay, Taiwan;
– August (6): Cocos Islands, Iran, Qatar, Ireland, Saba, Saint Barthélemy;
– September (3): Georgia, Myanmar, Hong Kong; and
– October (4): China, South Korea, North Korea, Eswatini.

Eight additional monthly national/territorial cold records beaten or tied as of the end of September

In addition to the two all-time national/territorial records listed above, eight nations or territories have set monthly all-time cold records in 2022, for a total of 10 monthly all-time records:

– March (2): Montenegro and Cyprus;
– April (2): Andorra, Laos;
– May (2): Vietnam, Thailand;
– July (1): Montenegro; and
– September (1): Greece.

Hemispherical and continental temperature records in 2022

– Highest temperature ever recorded in January in North America: 41.7°C (107.1°F) at Gallinas, Mexico, January 1;

– Highest temperature ever recorded in the Southern Hemisphere (tie) and world record for highest temperature ever recorded in January: 50.7°C (123.3°F) at Onslow AP, Australia, January 13;

– Highest minimum temperature ever recorded in South America: 32.2°C (90.0°F) at Pampa del Infierno, Argentina, January 17; and

– Highest minimum temperature ever recorded in January in the Northern Hemisphere: 29.3°C (84.7°F) at Kenieba, Mali, on January 15 (and again on January 30).

– Highest temperature ever recorded in August in Asia: 53.6°C (128.5°F) at Shush, Iran, on August 9.

Bob Henson contributed to this post.

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Jeff Masters

Jeff Masters, Ph.D., worked as a hurricane scientist with the NOAA Hurricane Hunters from 1986-1990. After a near-fatal flight into category 5 Hurricane Hugo, he left the Hurricane Hunters to pursue a...