Provisional State of Global Climate Report 2022
The report uses seven Climate Indicators to describe the changing climate—providing a broad view of the climate at a global scale. They are used to monitor the domains most relevant to climate change, including the composition of the atmosphere, the energy changes that arise from the accumulation of greenhouse gases and other factors, as well as the responses of land, oceans and ice. Here are a few important highlights.
Increase in Concentration of Greenhouse Gases
The concentrations of three main greenhouse gases, carbon dioxide (CO2), methane (CH4) and Nitrous oxide (NO2), were all at record highs in 2021.
The emissions of methane, which is 25 times more potent than carbon dioxide in causing global warming, in fact, increased at the fastest pace ever.
At the climate change conference in Glasgow, countries had pledged to cut global methane emissions by at least 30% by the year 2030.
The global average temperature in 2022 is estimated to be about 1.15 °C above the 1850-1900 average.
2015 to 2022 are likely to be the eight warmest years on record.
La Niña (a cooling of sea-surface waters in the equatorial Pacific Ocean) conditions have dominated since late 2020 and are expected to continue until the end of 2022.
Continuing La Niña has kept global temperatures relatively low for the past two years – albeit higher than the last significant La Niña in 2011.
Glaciers and Ice
In the European Alps, glacier melt records were shattered in 2022. Average thickness losses of between 3 and over 4 metres were measured throughout the Alps, substantially more than in the previous record year 2003.
In Switzerland, 6% of the glacier ice volume was lost between 2021 and 2022, according to initial measurements.
For the first time in history, no snow outlasted the summer season even at the very highest measurement sites and thus no accumulation of fresh ice occurred.
Sea Level Rise
Global mean sea level has risen by an estimated 3.4 ± 0.3 mm per year over the 30 years (1993-2022) of the satellite altimeter record.
The rate has doubled between 1993-2002 and 2013-2022 and sea level increased by about 5 mm between January 2021 and August 2022.
The ocean stores around 90% of the accumulated heat from human emissions of greenhouse gases.
The upper 2000m of the ocean continued to warm to record levels in 2021.
Overall, 55% of the ocean surface experienced at least one marine heatwave in 2022.
In contrast only 22% of the ocean surface experienced a marine cold spell. Marine heatwaves are becoming more frequent, in contrast to cold waves.
In East Africa, rainfall has been below average in four consecutive wet seasons, the longest in 40 years, with indications that the current season could also be dry.
Record-breaking rain in July and August 2022 led to extensive flooding in Pakistan.
The flooding came hard on the heels of an extreme heatwave in March and April in both India and Pakistan.
Large parts of the northern hemisphere were exceptionally hot and dry.
China had the most extensive and long-lasting heatwave since national records began and the second-driest summer on record.
Large parts of Europe sweltered in repeated episodes of extreme heat.
The United Kingdom saw a new national record on 19th July, 2022 when the temperature topped more than 40°C for the first time.
Usman Ahmad is a member of staff.