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NASA finds 2022 was 5th warmest year on record, part of long-term trend

 NASA GISS Surface Temperature Analysis map for Dec. 2022.
NASA GISS Surface Temperature Analysis map for Dec. 2022.

When it comes to global temperatures, 2022 was equal to 2015 — another year that led to dire warnings from scientists. That’s according to data recently released by NASA, finding last year was tied for the fifth warmest-year on record.

WAMC's Jim Levulis spoke with NASA polar scientist Dr. Rachel Tilling about the findings.

Tilling: 2022, according to NASA data, is the fifth warmest year on record. And it's actually joint fifth with 2015. And each year we release these temperature records. I always want to highlight that the long-term trend is what's really important here. And we would expect some cooler years, some slightly warmer years, but long term, the trend in temperature is upward global temperatures are increasing. And in fact, the nine previous years have been the nine hottest years on record according to the NASA data.

Levulis: And it's expected that that trend would continue?

Tilling: Absolutely. The long-term trend we've been measuring now since the late 1880s. And we're seeing temperature increasing. We'll expect it to continue to increase as the human population increases, greenhouse gas emissions increase and our influence on our global climate increases.

Levulis: And particularly looking at the data, NASA and NOAA found that the Arctic region continues to experience the strongest warming trends. You are a polar scientist whose research focuses on changes to global sea ice cover. What impacts are you witnessing in your work specifically?

Tilling: Yeah, as you say, the Arctic is really one of the most sensitive environments on the planet. The latest data suggests that it's warming at least three times faster than the rest of the planet. So the changes we're seeing there are really dramatic. And we know from NASA satellite data that we've lost about half the summer Arctic sea ice in the Arctic since even the late 1970s. So that's been a really dramatic decline. And what I always say is what happens to the Arctic doesn't stay in the Arctic. It is this faraway place, perhaps to a lot of people, but it is connected to the globe through our oceans, through our atmospheres. And we would expect the changes happening there to start to have a knock-on impact on the weather and on our climate at lower latitudes like in the U.S.

Levulis: NASA and NOAA, I understand launched some new satellites to help study the Earth this past year. Can you explain what those have allowed researchers just as yourself to do?

Tilling: NASA has a fleet of satellites with our partners that give us this awesome view of Earth because we can see things globally especially in hard-to-reach places. So some satellites can help us learn about deforestation, we can learn about agriculture and changes in global crop supply. We can even learn about changes in sea level rise as ice sheets and glaciers are melting, and various other things. And all of that data is really important to understanding the global health of our planet and the impacts that we humans are having on it.

Jim is WAMC’s Associate News Director and hosts WAMC's flagship news programs: Midday Magazine, Northeast Report and Northeast Report Late Edition. Email: jlevulis@wamc.org
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