Past eight years are on track to be the warmest on record, WMO reports

7 Nov 2022

Image: © Marcos Silva/

As world leaders gather for COP27, the UN and WMO unveiled an action plan to provide everyone on Earth with early warnings about dangerous weather.

The past eight years are on track to be the eight warmest on record. That’s according to the World Meteorological Organization (WMO), which warned that “it is only a matter of time until there is another warmest year on record”.

In its provisional State of the Global Climate report 2022, the WMO said that the effects of the climate crisis are becoming more visible with each passing year.

Extreme heatwaves, drought and devastating floods, have affected millions of people and cost billions in damage this year.

The rate at which sea levels are rising has doubled since 1993 and reached a new record high this year, it added. The past two and a half years alone account for 10pc of the overall rise in sea levels since satellites began measuring them nearly 30 years ago.

As well as sea levels rising, the melting of glaciers in the European Alps is also a concern, the WMO reports. This year took a very heavy toll on the glaciers, while the Greenland ice sheet lost mass for the 26th consecutive year and it rained there instead of snowing for the first time in September.

‘Increasingly extreme weather makes it more important than ever to ensure that everyone on Earth has access to life-saving early warnings’

“It’s already too late for many glaciers and the melting will continue for hundreds if not thousands of years, with major implications for water security,” said WMO secretary-general Prof Petteri Taalas.

“The rate of sea level rise has doubled in the past 30 years. Although we still measure this in terms of millimetres per year, it adds up to half to one metre per century and that is a long-term and major threat to many millions of coastal dwellers and low-lying states.”

Concentrations of the main greenhouse gases – carbon dioxide, methane and nitrous oxide – once again reached record levels last year, the WMO report found. The annual increase in methane concentration was the highest on record, and data from key monitoring stations showed that atmospheric levels of the three gases continued to increase in 2022.

Overall, 55pc of the ocean surface experienced at least one marine heatwave in 2022. Marine heatwaves are becoming more frequent, according to the report.

The global average temperature in 2022 is estimated to be about 1.15 degrees Celsius above the 1850-1900 average.

Another recent report by the WMO said that temperatures in Europe have increased at more than twice the global average over the past 30 years – the highest of any continent in the world.

‘Life-saving early warnings’

The WMO report was launched just ahead of COP27, the UN’s international climate conference taking place in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt.

At COP27 today (7 November), the UN and WMO also unveiled an action plan to provide everyone on Earth with early warnings about extreme and dangerous weather.

Announced by UN secretary-general António Guterres, the five-year plan calls for investment of $3.1bn between 2023 and 2027. This would cover disaster risk knowledge, observations and forecasting, preparedness and response, and communication of early warnings.

“Ever-rising greenhouse gas emissions are supercharging extreme weather events across the planet,” Guterres said.

“We must invest equally in adaptation and resilience. That includes the information that allows us to anticipate storms, heatwaves, floods and droughts. To that end, I have called for every person on Earth to be protected by early warning systems within five years, with the priority to support the most vulnerable first.”

Even well-prepared societies have been “ravaged by extremes – as seen by the protracted heatwaves and drought in large parts of Europe and southern China,” Taalas added.

“Increasingly extreme weather makes it more important than ever to ensure that everyone on Earth has access to life-saving early warnings.”

The WMO State of the Global Climate report is produced annually. It aims to provide up-to-date information on the current state of the climate crisis using key climate indicators.

The temperature figures used in the provisional 2022 report are valid until the end of September. The final version of the report will be issued next April.

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Blathnaid O’Dea is Careers reporter at Silicon Republic