GREENBELT, Md. — NASA has some concerning news about the climate here on Earth. Researchers say global temperatures in 2022 tied with 2015 for the fifth-warmest in recorded history. Global temperatures increased by 1.6 degrees Fahrenheit, which is higher than NASA’s baseline temperature period from 1951 to 1980. With climate change showing no signs of stopping, the space agency warns that we’ll continue to see more record-breaking temperatures in the years to come.
“This warming trend is alarming,” says Bill Nelson, a NASA administrator in a media release. “Our warming climate is already making a mark: Forest fires are intensifying; hurricanes are getting stronger; droughts are wreaking havoc and sea levels are rising.”
NASA discovered this trend by gathering temperature data from several weather stations across the world as well as Antarctic research stations. There are also tools measuring temperatures on ships and ocean buoys.
“NASA is deepening our commitment to do our part in addressing climate change,” adds Nelson. “Our Earth System Observatory will provide state-of-the-art data to support our climate modeling, analysis and predictions to help humanity confront our planet’s changing climate.”
A second analysis from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) says 2022 was the sixth-warmest year since people began keeping records of global temperatures in 1880. More specifically, the past nine years were the warmest since 1880. Compared to the 19th century, Earth is now two degrees hotter.
“The reason for the warming trend is that human activities continue to pump enormous amounts of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere, and the long-term planetary impacts will also continue,” explains Gavin Schmidt, the director of NASA’s leading center for climate modeling, GISS.
While greenhouse gas emissions slowed down in 2020 because of the COVID-19 pandemic, climate scientists have observed a sharp uptick again — with carbon dioxide gases being the highest on record in 2022. They also observed large quantities of another greenhouse gas called methane.
Warming temperatures have affected the planet in different ways. The Arctic, for example, continues to show the greatest warming trends, up to four times the global average. Other areas around the world have observed increased rainfall and tropical storms such as the monsoon rains that engulfed a large portion of Pakistan in 2022. On the other end of the spectrum, high temperatures have caused frequent and enduring droughts like the megadrought experienced in the American Southwest.
There are a number of other factors that can affect the average global temperature. Scientists consider 2022 one of the warmest years ever despite a third consecutive year of La Niña conditions in the tropical Pacific Ocean. NASA scientists theorize that 2022 would have been even hotter if not for the cooling effect of La Niña.