2022 was hottest year on record in Europe and Middle East

Globally, the year was the fifth warmest since 1950

A glacier on the coast of Ilulissat province in Greenland. Unsplash
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Last year was the hottest on record in many part of the world, including large parts of Europe and the Middle East, according to the European Union's Earth Observation Programme.

Data analysed by Copernicus showed 2022 was the fifth warmest year worldwide since 1950.

There were prolonged heatwaves and floods in many areas, as well as historically high temperatures in both polar regions.

Drought in Europe - in pictures

“The regions that saw the warmest year on record include large parts of western Europe, the Middle East, Central Asia and China, South Korea, New Zealand, north-western Africa and the Horn of Africa,” said Copernicus.

The last eight years have been the warmest since records began, according to the programme.

Although 2022 was the fifth warmest year overall, the temperatures for the fourth to the eighth hottest years are very close, it said.

The annual average temperature was 0.3°C above the reference period of 1991-2020, which is about 1.2°C higher than the period 1850-1900.

In March, the Antarctic experienced an intense warm period, with temperatures well above average, Copernicus said.

Climate change around the world - in pictures

It added: “At Vostok station, in the interior of east Antarctica, for example, the reported temperature reached -17.7°C, the warmest ever measured in its 65-year record.”

“The Antarctic saw unusually low sea ice conditions throughout the year, with six months seeing record or near-record low Antarctic Sea ice extents for the corresponding month.

“During the latter half of February, Antarctic daily sea ice extent reached a record low, bypassing the previous minimum reached in 2017.”

During September, temperatures in the centre of Greenland were 8°C higher than average. And almost the entire country experienced temperatures that month that were higher than since at least 1979, due to unusually warm southerly winds.

The summer was the hottest on record for Europe, and the year overall was the second warmest for the continent, exceeded by 2020 and slightly warmer than 2019, 2015 and 2014.

Copernicus said: “The unusual warmth in late spring and summer in Europe combined with a lack of rain, clear skies and dry soils, brought drought conditions, especially to the southern and central parts of the continent. Many countries reported impacts on agriculture, river transport and energy management.”

The UK’s Met Office recently announced 2022 was the warmest on record in the UK, where the average annual temperature topped 10°C for the first time.

People sit on sun-scorched grass in Greenwich Park, south-east London.  in the summer of 2022. AFP

All four UK nations set new records, with England experiencing the highest average temperature at 10.94°C, followed by Wales at 10.23°C, Northern Ireland at 9.85°C and Scotland at 8.50°C.

A drought was declared in August in much of London and across swathes of England, leading to the implementation of hosepipe bans.

In Europe, prolonged dry conditions led to wildfires.

Copernicus said: “Extremely dry conditions also led to increased fire danger resulting in unusually high fire activity in south-western Europe, especially France and Spain.”

Pakistan also suffered from a prolonged heatwave, as well as record-breaking rainfall leading to large-scale flooding over large parts of the country, leading to widespread destruction and loss of life.

Flooding in Pakistan in 2022 - in pictures

She said: “These events highlight that we are already experiencing the devastating consequences of our warming world.

“The latest 2022 Climate Highlights from [Copernicus] provides clear evidence that avoiding the worst consequences will require society to both urgently reduce carbon emissions and swiftly adapt to the changing climate.”

Data suggests Europe may break more records this winter, after scientists warned that mild temperatures in parts of Europe are an extreme weather event caused by climate change, on a par with the heatwaves that hit the continent last summer.

Temperatures close to 19°C were recorded in the Polish capital Warsaw on New Year's Day, while across the border in Belarus, they reached 16.4°C, which is 4.5°C higher than the previous record.

In Paris, temperatures were 5.5°C higher than average between December 19 and January 2.

Updated: January 10, 2023, 12:07 PM