Annual State of the Climate Report Finds Evidence of Warming Climate, Record Highs

By Jamie Crockett / 08/31/2022 College of Science and Technology

EAST GREENSBORO, N.C. (Aug. 31, 2022) – The 2021 State of the Climate Report released today reveals evidence of another year of a warming climate, with new record highs and frequency of extreme weather events across the globe.

According to the report, “the global annual average atmospheric carbon dioxide concentration was 414.7 parts per million (ppm) … which was 2.3 ppm greater than 2020 amounts and was the highest in both the modern 63-year record as well as the highest in the last million years.” Scientists also observed respective records for methane and nitrous oxide concentrations. These three gases comprise the major atmospheric greenhouse gas concentrations that contribute to global warming.

Other findings include:

  • Earth’s warming trend continued.
  • Ocean heat and global sea level were the highest on record.
  • La Niña conditions lowered sea surface temperatures.
  • Temperatures were mixed in the Southern hemisphere.
  • The Arctic was cooler overall, but some records were set.
  • Tropical cyclone activity was well above average.

More than 530 scientists in more than 60 countries contributed to the 32nd edition of this report, an annual, internationally peer-reviewed assessment compiled by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s National Centers for Environmental Information, and published by the Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society. The report’s layout includes observation of oceans, the tropics, high latitudes and specific regions across the globe.

Ademe Mekonnen, Ph.D., professor in the Department of Physics at North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University, has served as the chapter editor of the African region for seven consecutive years.

“We found a lot of extreme events for the African region, like devastating floods, and not only are they extreme, they are intense,” said Mekonnen. “It looks like the rainy season was heavier and shorter in some areas, but if you go only several hundred kilometers away, it’s a completely dry climate.”

Mekonnen referenced areas like east central Sudan, which garnered widespread media attention in 2021 after more than 835,000 people were impacted by the worst flooding in the country’s history, according to the United Nations Office for Humanitarian Affairs.

“For example, when floodwaters rise and do not recede, this affects the movement of people and goods. Some people have died as a result,” Mekonnen said. “Livestock, crops, water quality and even the economy and other areas necessary to sustain communities, are all affected.”

Mekonnen said these extreme weather events and their effects are also seen in areas across the world: “There is some signature of a change in climate and these weather events are increasing in frequency and strength.”

To read the report, visit the American Meteorological Society’s website.

Media Contact Information: jicrockett@ncat.edu

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