Earth had its sixth-warmest year on record in 2022, 0.86 degree Celsius (1.55°F) above the 20th-century average, NOAA reported Jan. 12. NASA rated 2022 the fifth-warmest year on record, 1.16 degrees Celsius (2.09°F) above the 1880-1920 period, which is its best estimate for when preindustrial temperatures occurred. NASA rates the margin of error of its annual temperature measurement at 0.05 degree Celsius.
The European Copernicus Climate Change Service, Berkeley Earth, and the Japan Meteorological Agency also rated 2022 as the fifth-warmest on record. Minor differences in rankings often occur among various research groups, the result of different ways they handle data-sparse regions such as the Arctic.
Global ocean temperatures in 2022 were the sixth-warmest on record, and global land temperatures the seventh-warmest on record, according to NOAA. Global satellite-measured temperatures in 2022 for the lowest eight kilometers of the atmosphere were not yet available at the time of this writing.
As detailed in our Jan. 10 post, 2022 for the U.S. was the 18th-warmest year in history going back to 1895. Seven states had a top-10 warmest year on record, and none of the contiguous 48 states was below average in temperature in 2022.
The two main human-emitted heat-trapping gases — carbon dioxide and methane — both reached all-time highs in 2022, with the methane growth rate hitting its highest level on record. Although CO2 concentrations have hit a new high each year for decades, the increase in methane has been more irregular: There was an unexpected leveling off in the 2000s, followed by a sharp increase in the 2010s and 2020s.
According to NOAA, NASA, and the European Copernicus Climate Change Service, the eight warmest years on record since 1880 were the most recent eight years — 2015 through 2022. The global warmth in 2022 is all the more striking as it occurred not long after the minimum of the weakest solar cycle in more than 100 years and during a year dominated by La Niña conditions — factors that tend to cool the globe. The warmth of 2022 is a testament to how significantly human-caused global warming is heating the planet.
Warmest year on record for total ocean heat content
When a La Niña is in progress, as was the case during all of 2022, a slight dip in global air temperature is typically balanced by a bump-up in global ocean heat content, so it’s no surprise that the total heat content of the world’s oceans in 2022 was the warmest in recorded human history, according to a Jan. 11, 2023, paper by Cheng et al., Another Year of Record Heat for the Oceans, published in the journal Advances in Atmospheric Sciences. In the uppermost 2,000 meters of the oceans, there were approximately 9-11 zettajoules more heat in 2022 than in 2021, which held the previous record (a zettajoule is one sextillion joules — 10 to the 21st power). To put those numbers into context, understand that humans use a total of about 0.5 zettajoules of energy per year.
More than 90% of the increasing heat from human-caused global warming accumulates in the ocean as a result of its large heat capacity. The remaining heating manifests as atmospheric warming, a drying and warming landmass, and melting land and sea ice. Increasing ocean heat content causes sea-level rise through thermal expansion of the water and melting of glaciers in contact with the ocean, resulting in higher coastal erosion and more damaging storm surges. Ocean heat content also produces stronger and more rapidly intensifying hurricanes; causes more intense precipitation events that can lead to destructive flooding; contributes to “marine heat waves” that damage or destroy coral reefs; and disrupts atmospheric circulation patterns.
Global tropical cyclones near average in number, below average in strength
A total of 88 named storms occurred across the globe in 2022, which was near the 1991-2020 average. Of those, 40 reached tropical cyclone strength (winds of 74 mph or higher) and 17 reached major tropical cyclone strength (winds of 111 mph or higher). The global accumulated cyclone energy, or ACE — an integrated metric of the strength, frequency, and duration of tropical storms — was the fourth-lowest since 1981.
La Niña continues but is expected to abate by April
La Niña conditions persisted during December, but neutral conditions are expected to emerge by the Northern Hemisphere spring (82% chance in March-April-May), NOAA reported in its January monthly discussion of the state of the El Niño/Southern Oscillation, or ENSO.
The NOAA and Columbia University’s International Research Institute for Climate and Society forecast for the upcoming Atlantic hurricane season (August-September-October) is for an 11% chance of La Niña, a 38% chance of ENSO-neutral, and a 51% chance of El Niño. El Niño conditions tend to suppress Atlantic hurricane activity through an increase in wind shear but increase hurricane activity in the Eastern Pacific.
It’s possible the impact of the current La Niña event is being boosted by an intensely 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. Almost every month since 2017 has seen a negative PDO, and the December PDO index was the fourth-lowest for any December in data going all the way back to 1854. When the PDO is negative, La Niña is more common and its impacts are often more pronounced.
Arctic sea ice: 7th-lowest December extent on record
Arctic sea ice extent during December 2022 was the seventh-lowest in the 45-year satellite record, according to the National Snow and Ice Data Center. By the end of the month, ice extent had fallen to the fourth-lowest on record. Although Arctic sea ice extent was below average over the entire year, no records were set, and the September average sea ice extent, at 4.87 million square kilometers (1.88 million square miles), tied with 2010 as only the eleventh-lowest in the satellite record.
Antarctic sea ice extent in December was the second-lowest on record, behind the record low set in 2016. By the end of the month, ice extent was the lowest on record for the date.
A slew of heat records in 2022
International weather records researcher Maximiliano Herrera monitors the pulse of the planet in remarkable detail, and he logged 12 nations or territories that set or tied their all-time reliably measured heat records in 2022. This total falls well short of the record of 24 such records in 2019. Three nations set an all-time cold record in 2022.
Among global weather stations having at least 40 years of record-keeping, Herrera documented 762 that exceeded (not just tied) their all-time heat record in 2022; just four stations with a long-term period of record-keeping set an all-time cold record. For comparison, 404 stations set their all-time heat record in 2021 and 54 set their all-time cold record.
The 12 places that set or tied an all-time national/territorial heat record in 2022
Paraguay: 45.6°C (114.1°F) at Sombrero Hovy, January 1; beaten on December 9 with 46.0°C (114.8°F) at Cooperativa Ferhein; beaten again on December 10 with 46.2°C (115.2°F) at Las Palmas;
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;
Monaco: 35.1°C (95.2°F) at Jardine Exotique, July 20;
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);
Dominica: 36.3°C (97.3°F) at Canefield, September 12;
Barbados: 35.5°C (95.9°F) at Bridgetown, September (unspecified date); and
Falkland Islands (UK dependency): 29.6°C (85.3°F) at Fox Bay, December 22.
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; and
Scotland: 34.8 °C (94.6 °F) at Charterhall, July 19.
The 3 places that set or tied an all-time national/territorial cold record in 2022
Montenegro: -33.4°C (-28.1°F) at Kosanica, January 25;
Myanmar: -6.0°C (21.2°F) at Hakha, January 29 (tie); and
Martinique: 12.1°C (53.8°F) at Le Morne Rouge, December 11.
A total of 94 monthly national/territorial heat records beaten or tied in 2022
In addition to the 12 all-time national/territorial records listed above (plus the double records set in Taiwan and Paraguay), 81 nations or territories set monthly all-time heat records in 2022, for a total of 95 monthly all-time records. Here are the additional 81 monthly heat records set:
– January (12): Mexico, USA, Croatia, Liechtenstein, Moldova, Comoros, Mayotte, Maldives, Dominica, Equatorial Guinea, Montenegro, Paraguay;
– February (2): Papua New Guinea, French Southern and Antarctic Lands;
– March (3): Myanmar, Pakistan, Mauritius;
– April (3): British Indian Ocean Territories, Hong Kong, Chad;
– May (7): Chad, Morocco, Liechtenstein, Andorra, Vatican City, Mauritius, Singapore;
– 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 (7): Cocos Islands, Iran, Qatar, Ireland, Saba, Saint Barthélemy, Mauritius;
– September (3): Georgia, Myanmar, Hong Kong;
– October (4): China, South Korea, North Korea, Eswatini;
– November (10): Slovenia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, North Macedonia, Kuwait, Cote d’ Ivoire, Qatar, Dominica, Cocos Islands, Northern Mariana Islands, Falkland Islands; and
– December (10): Kuwait, Northern Marianas, Dominica, Nigeria, Myanmar, Argentina, British Indian Ocean Territories, Chile, Albania, Luxembourg.
A total of 14 monthly national/territorial cold records beaten in 2022
In addition to the three all-time national/territorial records listed above, 11 nations or territories set monthly all-time cold records in 2022, for a total of 14 monthly all-time records. Here are the additional monthly cold records set in 2022:
– March (2): Montenegro and Cyprus;
– April (2): Andorra, Laos;
– May (2): Vietnam, Thailand;
– July (1): Montenegro;
– September (1): Greece;
– October (2): Paraguay, Peru; and
– December (1): Australia.
Notable global heat and cold records for 2022
- Hottest temperature in the Northern Hemisphere: 53.6°C (128.5°F) at Shush, Iran, August 9
- Coldest temperature in the Northern Hemisphere: -62.4°C (-80.3°F) at Summit, Greenland, January 31
- Hottest temperature in the Southern Hemisphere: 50.7°C (123.3°F) at Onslow, Australia, January 13
- Coldest temperature in the Southern Hemisphere: -81.3°C (-114.3°F) at Dome Fuji, Antarctica, September 2
- Highest 2022 average temperature in the Southern Hemisphere: 29.4°C (84.9°F) at Surabya AP, Indonesia, and Wyndham Airport, Australia
- Highest 2022 average temperature in the Northern Hemisphere: 31.8°C (89.2°F) at Makkah, Saudi Arabia
Earth’s record for hottest yearly average temperature was 32.9°C (91.2°F) at Makkah, Saudi Arabia, in 2010 and 2016.
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;
– 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;
– Lowest temperature ever recorded in October in South America: -21.5°C (-6.7°F) at Chuyapalca, Peru, October 7 (tie).
December 2022: Earth’s eighth-warmest December on record
Notable global heat and cold marks for December 2022
– Hottest temperature in the Northern Hemisphere: 41.5°C (106.7°F) at Matam, Senegal, December 8 and Diourbel, Senegal December 11;
– Coldest temperature in the Northern Hemisphere: -61.0°C (-77.8°F) at Oymyakon, Russia, December 12;
– Hottest temperature in the Southern Hemisphere: 48.5°C (119.3°F) at Mandora, Australia, December 11; and
– Coldest temperature in the Southern Hemisphere: -46.8°C (-52.2°F) at Dome A, Antarctica, December 1.
Major weather stations’ new all-time heat or cold records in December 2022
Among global stations with a record of at least 40 years, seven stations set (not just tied) all-time heat records in December 2022, and three stations set an all-time cold record:
Oran (Argentina) max. 45.0°C, December 8;
Trincomalee (Sri Lanka) min. 16.5°C, December 9;
Cooperativa Ferhein (Paraguay) max. 46.0°C, December 9; New national record high for Paraguay;
Las Palmas (Paraguay) max. 46.2°C, December 10: New national record high for Paraguay;
Prats Gill (Paraguay) max. 45.2°C, December 10;
Mandora (Australia) max. 48.5°C, December 11;
Le Morne Rouge (Martinique,France) min. 12.1°C, December 11: New territorial record low for Martinique;
Casper (Wyoming, USA) min. -41.1°C, December 22;
Fox Bay (Falkland Islands, UK) max. 29.6°C, December 22: New territorial record high for the Falkland Islands; and
Sea Lion Island (Falkland Islands, UK) max. 22.4°C, December 22.
(Courtesy of Maximiliano Herrera)
Editor’s note: This post was update on February 16, 2023, to add the new all-time heat record for Monaco set on July 20, 2022, and to remove the monthly record for February 2022 that was reported for Pakistan (there was higher temperature in February 1953). An update was made on July 7, 2023, to add Mauritius to the list of August monthly heat records.
Bob Henson contributed to this post.