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Last 8 years warmest on record globally, says EU report

January 10, 2023

A new report by the European Union's climate monitor noted extreme temperatures in Europe, the Middle East, China, Central Asia and northern Africa. Europe recorded its second hottest year on record too.

A boy splashes water on his face from a water fountain during summer in Brussels, July 19, 2022
Human-induced global warming is shaping our climateImage: Yves Herman/REUTERS

The last eight years have been the warmest on record, the European Union's climate monitoring service said in its annual report on Tuesday.

The Copernicus Climate Change Service (C3S) said December 2022 was the seventh warmest in Europe since records began and Europe as a whole recorded its second hottest year last year too.

Climatologists typically use reference periods to create 'climate normals' that represent what can be considered a typical climate for that period. This new report uses 1991-2020 as the main reference period.

"Atmospheric concentrations are continuing to rise with no sign of slowing," said Vincent-Henri Peuch, the head of the Copernicus Atmosphere Monitoring Service.

Extreme temperatures across the globe

"2022 was yet another year of climate extremes across Europe and globally," Samantha Burgess, the deputy head of the climate change service, said in a statement. 

"These events highlight that we are already experiencing the devastating consequences of our warming world," she said.

2022 was the fifth warmest year globally since records began, with 2016, 2020, 2019 and 2017 having been hotter, in that order. The last eight years were the eight hottest on record, C3S said.

The UK, France, Spain and Italy set new average temperature records for the year 2022, while the Middle East, China, Central Asia and northern Africa experienced unprecedented levels of heat as well.

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Polar regions record warm temperatures

Vostok station, one of the most remote research stations in the world in Antarctica, recorded its warmest temperature last year in its 65-year history at minus 17.7 degrees Celsius (0.14 degrees Fahrenheit).

On the other end, Greenland experienced September temperatures 8 degrees Celsius higher than average, leading to widespread ice losses and global sea level rise.

The concentration of greenhouse gases like carbon dioxide and methane, which stay in the atmosphere for up to 1,000 years and a decade, respectively, also continued to climb to record levels. 

Burning fossil fuels to generate electricity or for transportation is one of the key drivers of global warming. 

The European Union has said it is committed to limiting the Earth's warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius (2.7 degrees Fahrenheit) compared to pre-industrial levels as per the Paris agreement. 

rm/msh (AFP, Reuters)