5 Climate and Environmental Records that Were Broken in 2022

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Triple Episode of La Niña, Temperatures Above 41 °C, Announcements that the Last Eight Years are the Hottest in History and a Spike in Greenhouse Gases are Some of the Sad Records that Have Been Broken in 2022

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Julián Andrés Pastrana Cuéllar

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Leer en español: 5 Récords climáticos y ambientales que se rompieron en 2022

Climate change is a phenomenon with increasingly undeniable consequences. For this reason, it is not surprising that in 2022 several records have been broken in this area, which reflect the serious risk in which our planet finds itself. Below, we review some of those unfortunate and worrying records broken so far this year.

1. First triple episode of La Niña of the Century

According to the World Meteorological Organization (OMN), 2022 will be remembered as the year in which an unusually long La Niña phenomenon was recorded that could last until the end of summer in the Southern Hemisphere and winter in the Northern Hemisphere.

This entity has thus been able to document the first case, so far this century, of three La Niña episodes spanning three consecutive years, which has undoubtedly modified the rainfall regime and temperature patterns, at the same time that intensified the severity of droughts and floods throughout the globe. It should be noted that since 1950 only three triple La Niña episodes have been recorded.

2. Highest temperatures ever in the Northern Hemisphere summer

While some regions have suffered the ravages of La Niña, Europe has been the epicenter of excessively high temperatures so far in 2022. Monitoring carried out by the Copernicus satellite surveillance service has revealed that the Old Continent registered an unusually intense heat wave during the summer.

France, for example, experienced the hottest May since the year 1900 when statistics began to be kept on this matter. In Portugal, for its part, it was recorded that this same month was the warmest in the last 92 years. Another record took place in Seville (Spain), where the temperature reached 41 °C.

However, it was also an unusually hot summer for the United States and China, as well as other countries in the Northern Hemisphere. For example, Shanghai reached temperatures close to 41 degrees Celsius.

3. The last eight years, the warmest on record

Even more serious are the conclusions drawn by the WMO by asserting that the last eight years have been the warmest, according to existing records. All this is one more side effect of the phenomenon of climate change, which in recent decades has increased its consequences. It is enough to know that, since 1993, the sea level has risen twice as fast. As of 2020 it has increased by almost 10 mm and in 2022 it set a new high. It is estimated that in the last two and a half years 10% of the rise in sea level has been recorded since these data began to be recorded almost three decades ago.

September 2022 will also go down in history because for the first time rain fell instead of snowfall in Greenland, something totally atypical for this season of the year.

4. In the Amazon, deforestation records have been constantly broken during 2022

This year has been tragic for the Brazilian Amazon. At the beginning of December 2022, 564,991,194 trees had been lost, according to the Plenamata deforestation monitor. This is an average loss of 1,201 trees per minute, 21% faster than in 2021. In fact, the Infoamazonia research portal points out that Brazil has led the destruction of the Amazon in the last 36 years.

We recommend you read: Infographic: Amazon Deforestation Reaches 1.6 Million Trees per Day in 2022

5. Skyrocketing greenhouse gas levels

The latest report from the Global Carbon Project alliance was alarming, according to which it is expected that in 2022, carbon dioxide emissions will reach 40.6 billion tons, a figure very close to the 40.9 billion recorded in 2019, considered the maximum annual peak of which there is evidence to date.

In line with that announcement, in October 2022 the World Meteorological Organization reported that, in 2021, atmospheric levels of carbon dioxide, methane, and nitrous oxide—considered the three main greenhouse gases—reached new all-time highs.

Regarding carbon dioxide, the WMO reported that the increase in the levels of this gas exceeded the average annual increase rate of the last ten years. As for methane, it reached the highest year-on-year rise in the last four decades.

The most worrying thing that emerges from the reports of the WMO World Meteorological Organization is that this increase in the levels of these gases in the last three decades has had an impact on the intensification of climate warming (also known as radiative forcing).