State of the climate: 2022 on track for a summer of extreme heat

By Zeke Hausfather on Carbon Brief

The summer of 2022 is shaping up to be a scorcher. June 2022 saw the warmest temperatures on record over the world’s land areas – and record–breaking heatwaves have swept across the northern hemisphere, particularly continental Europe, the UK, China and parts of the US.

Summer warmth notwithstanding, 2022 is still on track to likely be the fifth warmest year on record in most datasets, though it could be as high as the second or as low as the eighth depending on how temperatures develop in the remaining six months of the year.

Global temperatures are being pushed down due to a persistent “double dip” La Niña event that has brought cooler ocean waters to the surface in the tropical Pacific. However, even with 2022 not setting a new record, the world will have experienced its eight warmest years on record in the past eight years.

Antarctic sea ice has been at record low levels for the first quarter of the year, as well as nearly all of the month of July, while Arctic sea ice extent has tracked the low end of the historical range.

Exceptional heatwaves 

While climate scientists often focus on global average temperature changes, no one lives in the global average. Land temperatures can be more representative of the climate changes most people experience and, on land, June 2022 saw the warmest temperatures since records began in the late 1850s.

The figure below shows global land temperatures for the month of June from 1950 to 2022 in the Copernicus/ECMWF ERA5 dataset. June 2022 was around 1.8C warmer than pre-industrial (1850-1899) temperatures, with the vast majority of that warming occurring over the past few decades. June land temperatures have risen by more than 1.5C since the early 1980s.

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