Antarctic sea ice coverage melted to near-record lows
The planet continued its warming trend in 2022, with last year ranking as the sixth-warmest year on record since 1880, according to an analysis by scientists from NOAA’s National Centers for Environmental Information (NCEI).
Below are highlights from NOAA’s 2022 annual global climate report:
Climate by the numbers
Earth’s average land and ocean surface temperature in 2022 was 1.55 degrees F (0.86 of a degree C) above the 20th-century average of 57.0 degrees F (13.9 degrees C) — the sixth highest among all years in the 1880-2022 record.
It also marked the 46th-consecutive year (since 1977) with global temperatures rising above the 20th-century average. The 10-warmest years on record have all occurred since 2010, with the last nine years (2014-2022) among the 10-warmest years.
The 2022 Northern Hemisphere surface temperature was also the sixth highest in the 143-year record at 1.98 degrees F (1.10 degrees C) above average. The Southern Hemisphere surface temperature for 2022 was the seventh highest on record at 1.10 degrees F (0.61 of a degree C) above average.
2022 as ranked by other scientific organizations
NASA scientists conducted a separate but similar analysis, determining that 2022 ranked as Earth’s fifth-warmest year on record, tied with 2015. The European Commission's Copernicus website offsite link ranked 2022 as the globe’s fifth-warmest year on record.
Other notable climate findings and events
- Global ocean heat content (OHC) hit a record high: The upper ocean heat content, which addresses the amount of heat stored in the upper 2,000 meters of the ocean, was record high in 2022, surpassing the previous record set in 2021. The four highest OHCs have all occurred in the last four years (2019-2022).
- Polar sea ice ran low: The 2022 annual Antarctic sea ice extent (coverage) was at a near-record low at 4.09 million square miles. Only the year 1987 had a smaller annual extent. During 2022, each month had an extent that ranked among the five smallest for their respective months, while the months of February, June, July and August had their lowest monthly extent on record.
In the Arctic, the average annual sea ice extent was approximately 4.13 million square miles — the 11th-smallest annual average sea ice extent in the 1979-2022 record, according to data from the National Snow and Ice Data Center offsite link.
- Global tropical cyclones were near average: 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 (ACE) — an integrated metric of the strength, frequency and duration of tropical storms — was the fourth lowest since 1981.
- December 2022 was warm: The average temperature across global land and ocean surfaces in December was 1.44 degrees F (0.80 of a degree C) above the 20th-century average. This ranks as the eighth-warmest December in the 143-year NOAA record.
Regionally, Africa tied 2016 for its second-warmest December on record. South America’s December ranked fourth warmest on record, while Europe saw its 10th warmest. Although North America and Asia both had an above-average December temperature, neither ranked among the 20 warmest on record.
John Bateman, firstname.lastname@example.org, (202) 424-0929