2022 was not the hottest on record. That’s nothing to celebrate

Asia experienced its second warmest year on record. On April 30, temperatures hit 120 degrees Fahrenheit in Jacobabad, Pakistan — unusually early for the region. As summer arrived, heat waves killed 50,000 people in the European Union in July alone, and as vegetation dried out, fires broke out in London and burned large parts of France, Spain and other European countries. Drought punished Europe, the western United States and China, jeopardizing food supplies as crops reached their thermal limits, shortages of basic grains and vegetables and driving up prices for luxury goods such as wine.

“The UK had its warmest year on record and Western Europe had its warmest summer on record. Not everywhere, not every year, but almost consistently these records are broken all over the world,” says Schmidt. “We had 40 degrees Celsius [104 degrees Fahrenheit] temperatures in the south of the UK. That has never happened before and they are totally unprepared.”

Courtesy of Berkeley Earth

You can see these absurd temperatures on the map above from another 2022 global temperature report released today by the non-profit research group Berkeley Earth, agreeing that this was the fifth-warmest year on record. According to their calculations, by 2022 nearly 90 percent of the Earth’s surface will be significantly warmer than the average temperature between 1951 and 1980.

Note the band of cool La Niña in blue off the coast of South America, and how red the Middle East, Asia and Europe are, by contrast. “There are about 380 million people living in areas with the highest absolute temperature recorded this year,” said Zeke Hausfather, a research scientist at Berkeley Earth. “While you can have a lot of year-to-year variability due to Pacific ocean dynamics, the long-term human-induced warming signal is pretty clear.”

The map shows the redness extending into the Arctic, indicating higher temperatures in a region that is now warming four and a half times faster than the global average, as scientists announced this summer. That’s known as Arctic strengthening: As more ice melts, it exposes the dark land below, which absorbs more solar energy, raising temperatures. You can see how out of control this has gotten in the chart below, which is also from the Berkeley Earth report.