“From mountain peaks to ocean depths, climate change continued its advance in 2022,” a headline statement from the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) annual report published on 21 April 2023.
The report focuses on seven key climate indicators – greenhouse gases, temperatures, sea level rise, ocean heat and acidification, sea ice and glaciers, to describe the changing climate and how the climate crisis and extreme weather impact people and nature.
The report’s findings present the harsh effects of climate change on the planet. Omar Baddour, Heat of the Climate Monitoring and Policy Division at the WMO, told CNN, “2022 was a year of extremes for the planet, and this continues the trend set in previous years”.
WMO Annual Report (2023) says that the year 2022 also saw several climate records broken:
- The global mean temperature in 2022 was 1.15°C above pre-industrial levels. 2022 is also the 5th or 6th warmest year on record despite three consecutive years of cooling La Niña. The year 2015-2022 were the eight warmest years.
- The concentration of three primary GHG – carbon dioxide, methane, and nitrous oxide reached record observed highs in 2021, from the latest available records in 1984.
- Methane increases from 2020 to 2021 at 18 ppb was the highest on record; the causes are still being investigated.
- Observed long-term glacier loss between October 2021 and October 2022 has been larger than the average in the last decade. The European Alps hit records for glacial melt due to the intrusion of the Saharan dust and heatwaves in 2022.
- Antarctic sea ice fell to its lowest extent on record, and the melting of some European glaciers. Melting of glaciers and sea level rise – which again reached record levels in 2022 – will continue for up to thousands of years.
- Sea ice in Antarctica dropped to 1.92 million km2 on February 25, 2022, the lowest level on record and almost 1 million km2 below the long-term (1991-2020) mean
- Pakistan had record-breaking rainfall, while China and Europe experienced record-breaking heatwaves affecting tens of millions and driving food insecurity.
- Ocean heat reached a record high in 2022. Around 90% of the GHG emissions is absorbed by the oceans, which could prevent temperature increases but be detrimental to the marine ecosystems. Despite the cooling effects of La Niña, 58% of the ocean experienced a marine heatwave in 2022.
- Global mean sea levels continued to rise in 2022. The GMSL rise doubled from the first decade of satellite record (1993-2002) to the latest (2013-2022), from 2.27mm per year to 4.62mm per year. Glacier and sea ice melts, and ocean warming through thermal expansion contributed to rising sea levels.
A State of the Global Climate 2022 story map accompanies the WMO report providing information for policymakers about the shifts and trends in the climate change indicators and the myriads of available technology and innovations that offer solutions for climate change mitigation.
According to the WMO, the report complements the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Sixth Assessment Report, which includes data up to 2020.
WMO annual report highlights continuous advance of climate change. (2023, April 21). World Meteorological Organization. Retrieved from https://public.wmo.int/en/media/press-release/wmo-annual-report-highlights-continuous-advance-of-climate-change
Paddison, L. (2023, April 21). The world just failed its annual health checkup. CNN. Retrieved from https://edition.cnn.com/2023/04/21/world/wmo-report-state-of-climate-intl/index.html