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UN agency says past 8 years warmest on record

People spend time at a beach in Faliro, a southern suburb of Athens, Greece, on Jan 6, 2023. Greece has been experiencing unseasonably warm temperatures this winter, prompting people to head for the beach instead of the ski resorts. (MARIOS LOLOS / XINHUA)

GENEVA/LOS ANGELES – Soaring greenhouse gas levels and accumulated heat have led to the warmest eight years on record, the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) said on Thursday.

According to temperature data gathered by WMO, 2022 was the eighth consecutive year when annual global temperatures reached at least one degree Celsius above pre-industrial levels.

The landmark 2015 Paris Agreement pledged to keep global warming "well below" two degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels, and to strive for a lower limit of 1.5 degrees Celsius.

READ MORE: Earth's temperature likely marks hottest decade on record

There is a need to enhance preparedness for such extreme events and to ensure that we meet the UN target of Early Warnings for All in the next five years.

Petteri Taalas, Secretary-General, WMO

Meanwhile, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has underlined that global warming should be limited to 1.5 degrees Celsius or below.

However, the latest WMO data has shown that the average global temperature in 2022 was around 1.15 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels, while the ten-year average temperature for the period 2013-2022 was 1.14 degrees Celsius above the pre-industrial baseline.

This indicates that long-term warming continues, and the likelihood of temporarily breaching the 1.5 degrees Celsius target is increasing, said WMO.

Global warming and other long-term climate change trends are expected to continue, WMO said, due to record levels of heat-trapping greenhouse gases in the atmosphere.

Extreme heatwaves, drought and devastating flooding affected millions and cost billions in 2022,     according to WMO's provisional State of the Global Climate in 2022 report.

"There is a need to enhance preparedness for such extreme events and to ensure that we meet the UN target of Early Warnings for All in the next five years," said WMO Secretary-General Petteri Taalas.

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"Today only half of 193 (WMO) members have proper early warning services, which leads to much higher economic and human losses. There are also big gaps in basic weather observations in Africa and island states, which has a major negative impact on the quality of weather forecasts," he warned.

This Aug 15, 2022 photo shows a view of Cijara reservoir in Extremadura, Spain. (MENG DINGBO / XINHUA)

Warming trend

In an analysis released on Thursday, the US National Aeronautics and Space Administration said Earth's average surface temperature in 2022 tied with 2015 as the fifth warmest year on record.

Our warming climate is already making a mark: Forest fires are intensifying; hurricanes are getting stronger; droughts are wreaking havoc and sea levels are rising.

Bill Nelson, Administrator, NASA 

Continuing the planet's long-term warming trend, global temperatures in 2022 were 1.6 degrees Fahrenheit (0.89 degrees Celsius) above the average for NASA's baseline period (1951-1980), according to scientists from the Goddard Institute for Space Studies (GISS), NASA's leading center for climate modeling.

"This warming trend is alarming," said NASA Administrator Bill Nelson. "Our warming climate is already making a mark: Forest fires are intensifying; hurricanes are getting stronger; droughts are wreaking havoc and sea levels are rising."

"NASA is deepening our commitment to do our part in addressing climate change. Our Earth System Observatory will provide state-of-the-art data to support our climate modeling, analysis and predictions to help humanity confront our planet's changing climate.”

READ MORE: EU scientists: 2022 was Europe's second-warmest year on record

The past nine years have been the warmest years since modern recordkeeping began in 1880. This means Earth in 2022 was about 2 degrees Fahrenheit (about 1.11 degrees Celsius) warmer than the late 19th century average, according to NASA.

"The reason for the warming trend is that human activities continue to pump enormous amounts of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere, and the long-term planetary impacts will also continue," said GISS Director Gavin Schmidt.