The world’s oceans were at their hottest ever on record in 2022, according to a new study.
“The Earth’s energy and water cycles have been profoundly altered due to the emission of greenhouse gases by human activities, driving pervasive changes in Earth’s climate system,” reads the report by an international group of scientists published in the Advances in Atmospheric Sciences journal.
Warming of oceans has led to “more extreme weather … and that has tremendous consequences all around the world,” said John Abraham, a professor at the University of St. Thomas in the US who was part of the study team.
Using records kept since 1958, the analysis determined that there has been an “inexorable rise in ocean temperature, with an acceleration in warming after 1990,” British daily The Guardian reported.
As oceans absorb over 90% of the excess heat created by greenhouse gas emissions, ocean warming and its effects on extreme weather will increase until humanity approaches net zero emissions, the report said.
The findings build on a World Meteorological Organization (WMO) report last October, which showed that the atmospheric concentration of the three main greenhouse gases – carbon dioxide, methane and nitrous oxide – all hit record highs in 2021.
The data on the “continuing rise in concentrations of the main heat-trapping gases, including the record acceleration in methane levels, shows that we are heading in the wrong direction,” said WMO head Petteri Taalas.
Meanwhile, the Copernicus Climate Change Service (C3S), implemented by the European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts (ECMWF) on behalf of the European Commission, releases its 2022 Global Climate Highlights: a summary of the past year’s temperatures, greenhouse gas concentrations and significant climate and weather events.
The summary shows that several high temperature records were broken both in Europe and across the world, while other extreme events such as drought and flooding affected large regions.
Europe saw its hottest summer ever recorded and several prolonged and intense heatwaves affected parts of western and northern Europe. Globally, this year the world experienced its fifth warmest year on record by a narrow margin, according to the C3S ERA5 dataset. Other widely used temperature datasets are likely to rank 2022 slightly differently. Thus far, the hottest years on record globally are 2016, 2020 and 2019 and 2017 respectively.
Sources: AA, WMO