Earth’s average surface temperature in 2022 tied with 2015 as the fifth warmest on record, according to a new analysis by the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies. Continuing the planet’s long-term warming trend, global temperatures in 2022 were 1.6 degrees Fahrenheit (0.89 degrees Celsius) above the average for the institute’s baseline period of 1951-1980.
The past nine years have been the warmest since modern record keeping began in 1880. Earth in 2022 was about 2 degrees Fahrenheit (about 1.11 degrees Celsius) warmer than the late 19th century average.
“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,” said Gavin Schmidt, director of the Goddard Institute, NASA’s leading center for climate modeling.
In the past two years years, human-driven greenhouse gas emissions rebounded following a short-lived dip in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Recently, scientists from NASA and other institutions determined carbon dioxide emissions in 2022 were the highest on record. Using satellite measurements, NASA also identified more than 50 super-emitters of methane, another powerful greenhouse gas, mainly from fossil-fuel, waste and agricultural sources.
The Arctic continues to experience the strongest warming trends—close to four times the global average—according to Goddard Institute research presented at the 2022 annual meeting of the American Geophysical Union, as well as a separate study.
Communities around the world are experiencing the impacts. Climate change has intensified rainfall and tropical storms, deepened the severity of droughts, and increased the impact of storm surges. Last year brought torrential monsoon rains that devastated Pakistan and a persistent megadrought in the U.S. Southwest. In September, Hurricane Ian became one of the strongest and costliest hurricanes to strike the continental U.S.
NASA’s global temperature analysis is drawn from data collected by weather stations around the world, and instruments mounted on ships and ocean buoys. NASA scientists analyze these measurements to account for uncertainties in the data and to maintain consistent methods for calculating global average surface temperature differences for every year. The ground-based measurements of surface temperature are consistent with satellite data collected since 2002.
Many factors can affect the average temperature in any given year, and NASA includes short-term climate patterns to ensure its analyses encompass natural variations. For example, 2022 was one of the warmest on record despite being the third consecutive year of La Niña conditions in the tropical Pacific Ocean, which tend to produce cooler sea-surface temperatures. NASA scientists estimate that La Niña’s cooling influence may have lowered global temperatures slightly (about 0.11 degrees Fahrenheit or 0.06 degrees Celsius) from what the average would have been under more typical ocean conditions.
A separate, independent analysis this week by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) concluded that the global surface temperature for 2022 was the sixth highest since 1880. NOAA scientists use much of the same raw temperature data in their analyses, but have a different baseline period (1901-2000) and methodology. Although rankings for specific years can differ slightly between the records, they are in broad agreement. Both reflect ongoing long-term warming.
Goddard Institute for Space Studies, located in New York, is affiliated with Columbia University’s Earth Institute and its School of Engineering and Applied Science.