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Hugo G. Hidalgo
and
John A. Dracup

Abstract

Linkages between tropical Pacific Ocean monthly climatic variables and the Upper Colorado River basin (UCRB) hydroclimatic variations from 1909 to 1998 are analyzed at interseasonal timescales. A study of the changes in these linkages through the years and their relationship to the Pacific Decadal Oscillation (PDO) is also investigated. Tropical Pacific climate variations were represented by atmospheric/oceanic ENSO indicators. For the UCRB, warm season (April–September) streamflow totals at Lee's Ferry, Arizona, and precipitation averages at different periods (cold season: October–March; warm season: April–September; and annual: October–September) were used to study the UCRB's response to tropical Pacific climatic forcing. A basinwide ENSO signature was found in the significant correlations between warm season precipitation in the UCRB and warm season SST averages from the Niño-3 region in most of the stations around the UCRB. This link is more evident during the warm phase of ENSO (El Niño), which is associated with an increase in warm season precipitation. The analysis also showed a link between June to November ENSO conditions and cold season precipitation variations contained in a principal component representing the high-elevation precipitation stations, which are the main source of streamflow. However, the amplitude and coherence of the cold season ENSO signal is significantly smaller compared to the general precipitation variations found in stations around the UCRB. Only when very few stations in the high elevations are considered is the ENSO signal in cold season precipitation in the basin revealed. Interdecadal hydroclimatic variations in the UCRB related to possible PDO influences were also investigated. There are significant shifts in the mean of UCRB's moisture-controlled variables (precipitation and streamflow) coincident with the PDO shifts, suggesting a connection between the two processes. It has been suggested in other studies that this connection could be expressed as a modulation on the predominance of each ENSO phase; that is, strong and consistent winter El Niño (La Niña) patterns are associated with the positive (negative) phase of the PDO. In the UCRB this apparent modulation seems to be accompanied by a general change in the sign of the correlation between ENSO indicators and cold season precipitation in most stations of the basin around 1932/33. From 1909 to 1932 the basin has a predominantly cold season ENSO response characteristic of the northwestern United States (drier than normal associated with tropical SST warming and vice versa); from 1933 to 1998 the response of the basin is predominantly typical of the southwestern United States during winter (wetter than normal associated with tropical SST warming and vice versa). This apparent correlation sign reversal is suggested to be related to interdecadal changes in the boundary of the north–south bipolar response characteristic of the ENSO signal in the western United States during winter.

Full access
Hugo G. Hidalgo
,
Daniel R. Cayan
, and
Michael D. Dettinger

Abstract

The variability (1990–2002) of potential evapotranspiration estimates (ETo) and related meteorological variables from a set of stations from the California Irrigation Management System (CIMIS) is studied. Data from the National Climatic Data Center (NCDC) and from the Department of Energy from 1950 to 2001 were used to validate the results. The objective is to determine the characteristics of climatological ETo and to identify factors controlling its variability (including associated atmospheric circulations). Daily ETo anomalies are strongly correlated with net radiation (R n ) anomalies, relative humidity (RH), and cloud cover, and less with average daily temperature (T avg). The highest intraseasonal variability of ETo daily anomalies occurs during the spring, mainly caused by anomalies below the high ETo seasonal values during cloudy days. A characteristic circulation pattern is associated with anomalies of ETo and its driving meteorological inputs, R n , RH, and T avg, at daily to seasonal time scales. This circulation pattern is dominated by 700-hPa geopotential height (Z 700) anomalies over a region off the west coast of North America, approximately between 32° and 44° latitude, referred to as the California Pressure Anomaly (CPA). High cloudiness and lower than normal ETo are associated with the low-height (pressure) phase of the CPA pattern. Higher than normal ETo anomalies are associated with clear skies maintained through anomalously high Z 700 anomalies offshore of the North American coast. Spring CPA, cloudiness, maximum temperature (T max), pan evaporation (E pan), and ETo conditions have not trended significantly or consistently during the second half of the twentieth century in California. Because it is not known how cloud cover and humidity will respond to climate change, the response of ETo in California to increased greenhouse-gas concentrations is essentially unknown; however, to retain the levels of ETo in the current climate, a decline of R n by about 6% would be required to compensate for a warming of +3°C.

Full access
Céline Bonfils
,
Benjamin D. Santer
,
David W. Pierce
,
Hugo G. Hidalgo
,
Govindasamy Bala
,
Tapash Das
,
Tim P. Barnett
,
Daniel R. Cayan
,
Charles Doutriaux
,
Andrew W. Wood
,
Art Mirin
, and
Toru Nozawa

Abstract

Large changes in the hydrology of the western United States have been observed since the mid-twentieth century. These include a reduction in the amount of precipitation arriving as snow, a decline in snowpack at low and midelevations, and a shift toward earlier arrival of both snowmelt and the centroid (center of mass) of streamflows. To project future water supply reliability, it is crucial to obtain a better understanding of the underlying cause or causes for these changes. A regional warming is often posited as the cause of these changes without formal testing of different competitive explanations for the warming. In this study, a rigorous detection and attribution analysis is performed to determine the causes of the late winter/early spring changes in hydrologically relevant temperature variables over mountain ranges of the western United States. Natural internal climate variability, as estimated from two long control climate model simulations, is insufficient to explain the rapid increase in daily minimum and maximum temperatures, the sharp decline in frost days, and the rise in degree-days above 0°C (a simple proxy for temperature-driven snowmelt). These observed changes are also inconsistent with the model-predicted responses to variability in solar irradiance and volcanic activity. The observations are consistent with climate simulations that include the combined effects of anthropogenic greenhouse gases and aerosols. It is found that, for each temperature variable considered, an anthropogenic signal is identifiable in observational fields. The results are robust to uncertainties in model-estimated fingerprints and natural variability noise, to the choice of statistical downscaling method, and to various processing options in the detection and attribution method.

Full access
David W. Pierce
,
Tim P. Barnett
,
Hugo G. Hidalgo
,
Tapash Das
,
Céline Bonfils
,
Benjamin D. Santer
,
Govindasamy Bala
,
Michael D. Dettinger
,
Daniel R. Cayan
,
Art Mirin
,
Andrew W. Wood
, and
Toru Nozawa

Abstract

Observations show snowpack has declined across much of the western United States over the period 1950–99. This reduction has important social and economic implications, as water retained in the snowpack from winter storms forms an important part of the hydrological cycle and water supply in the region. A formal model-based detection and attribution (D–A) study of these reductions is performed. The detection variable is the ratio of 1 April snow water equivalent (SWE) to water-year-to-date precipitation (P), chosen to reduce the effect of P variability on the results. Estimates of natural internal climate variability are obtained from 1600 years of two control simulations performed with fully coupled ocean–atmosphere climate models. Estimates of the SWE/P response to anthropogenic greenhouse gases, ozone, and some aerosols are taken from multiple-member ensembles of perturbation experiments run with two models. The D–A shows the observations and anthropogenically forced models have greater SWE/P reductions than can be explained by natural internal climate variability alone. Model-estimated effects of changes in solar and volcanic forcing likewise do not explain the SWE/P reductions. The mean model estimate is that about half of the SWE/P reductions observed in the west from 1950 to 1999 are the result of climate changes forced by anthropogenic greenhouse gases, ozone, and aerosols.

Full access
Julie A. Vano
,
Bradley Udall
,
Daniel R. Cayan
,
Jonathan T. Overpeck
,
Levi D. Brekke
,
Tapash Das
,
Holly C. Hartmann
,
Hugo G. Hidalgo
,
Martin Hoerling
,
Gregory J. McCabe
,
Kiyomi Morino
,
Robert S. Webb
,
Kevin Werner
, and
Dennis P. Lettenmaier

The Colorado River is the primary water source for more than 30 million people in the United States and Mexico. Recent studies that project streamf low changes in the Colorado River all project annual declines, but the magnitude of the projected decreases range from less than 10% to 45% by the mid-twenty-first century. To understand these differences, we address the questions the management community has raised: Why is there such a wide range of projections of impacts of future climate change on Colorado River streamflow, and how should this uncertainty be interpreted? We identify four major sources of disparities among studies that arise from both methodological and model differences. In order of importance, these are differences in 1) the global climate models (GCMs) and emission scenarios used; 2) the ability of land surface and atmospheric models to simulate properly the high-elevation runoff source areas; 3) the sensitivities of land surface hydrology models to precipitation and temperature changes; and 4) the methods used to statistically downscale GCM scenarios. In accounting for these differences, there is substantial evidence across studies that future Colorado River streamflow will be reduced under the current trajectories of anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions because of a combination of strong temperature-induced runoff curtailment and reduced annual precipitation. Reconstructions of preinstrumental streamflows provide additional insights; the greatest risk to Colorado River streamf lows is a multidecadal drought, like that observed in paleoreconstructions, exacerbated by a steady reduction in flows due to climate change. This could result in decades of sustained streamflows much lower than have been observed in the ~100 years of instrumental record.

Full access
Peter Bissolli
,
Catherine Ganter
,
Tim Li
,
Ademe Mekonnen
,
Ahira Sánchez-Lugo
,
Eric J. Alfaro
,
Lincoln M. Alves
,
Jorge A. Amador
,
B. Andrade
,
Francisco Argeñalso
,
P. Asgarzadeh
,
Julian Baez
,
Reuben Barakiza
,
M. Yu. Bardin
,
Mikhail Bardin
,
Oliver Bochníček
,
Brandon Bukunt
,
Blanca Calderón
,
Jayaka D. Campbell
,
Elise Chandler
,
Ladislaus Chang’a
,
Vincent Y. S. Cheng
,
Leonardo A. Clarke
,
Kris Correa
,
Catalina Cortés
,
Felipe Costa
,
A.P.M.A. Cunha
,
Mesut Demircan
,
K. R. Dhurmea
,
A. Diawara
,
Sarah Diouf
,
Dashkhuu Dulamsuren
,
M. ElKharrim
,
Jhan-Carlo Espinoza
,
A. Fazl-Kazem
,
Chris Fenimore
,
Steven Fuhrman
,
Karin Gleason
,
Charles “Chip” P. Guard
,
Samson Hagos
,
Mizuki Hanafusa
,
H. R. Hasannezhad
,
Richard R. Heim Jr.
,
Hugo G. Hidalgo
,
J. A. Ijampy
,
Gyo Soon Im
,
Annie C. Joseph
,
G. Jumaux
,
K. R. Kabidi
,
P-H. Kamsu-Tamo
,
John Kennedy
,
Valentina Khan
,
Mai Van Khiem
,
Philemon King’uza
,
Natalia N. Korshunova
,
A. C. Kruger
,
Hoang Phuc Lam
,
Mark A. Lander
,
Waldo Lavado-Casimiro
,
Tsz-Cheung Lee
,
Kinson H. Y. Leung
,
Gregor Macara
,
Jostein Mamen
,
José A. Marengo
,
Charlotte McBride
,
Noelia Misevicius
,
Aurel Moise
,
Jorge Molina-Carpio
,
Natali Mora
,
Awatif E. Mostafa
,
Habiba Mtongori
,
Charles Mutai
,
O. Ndiaye
,
Juan José Nieto
,
Latifa Nyembo
,
Patricia Nying’uro
,
Xiao Pan
,
Reynaldo Pascual Ramírez
,
David Phillips
,
Brad Pugh
,
Madhavan Rajeevan
,
M. L. Rakotonirina
,
Andrea M. Ramos
,
M. Robjhon
,
Camino Rodriguez
,
Guisado Rodriguez
,
Josyane Ronchail
,
Benjamin Rösner
,
Roberto Salinas
,
Hirotaka Sato
,
Hitoshi Sato
,
Amal Sayouri
,
Joseph Sebaziga
,
Serhat Sensoy
,
Sandra Spillane
,
Katja Trachte
,
Gerard van der Schrier
,
F. Sima
,
Adam Smith
,
Jacqueline M. Spence
,
O. P. Sreejith
,
A. K. Srivastava
,
José L. Stella
,
Kimberly A. Stephenson
,
Tannecia S. Stephenson
,
S. Supari
,
Sahar Tajbakhsh-Mosalman
,
Gerard Tamar
,
Michael A. Taylor
,
Asaminew Teshome
,
Wassila M. Thiaw
,
Skie Tobin
,
Adrian R. Trotman
,
Cedric J. Van Meerbeeck
,
A. Vazifeh
,
Shunya Wakamatsu
,
Wei Wang
,
Fei Xin
,
F. Zeng
,
Peiqun Zhang
, and
Zhiwei Zhu
Free access
Peter Bissolli
,
Catherine Ganter
,
Ademe Mekonnen
,
Ahira Sánchez-Lugo
,
Zhiwei Zhu
,
A. Abida
,
W. Agyakwah
,
Laura S. Aldeco
,
Eric J. Alfaro
,
Teddy Allen
,
Lincoln M. Alves
,
Jorge A. Amador
,
B. Andrade
,
P. Asgarzadeh
,
Grinia Avalos
,
Julian Baez
,
M. Yu. Bardin
,
E. Bekele
,
Renato Bertalanic
,
Oliver Bochníček
,
Brandon Bukunt
,
Blanca Calderón
,
Jayaka D. Campbell
,
Elise Chandler
,
Candice S Charlton
,
Vincent Y. S. Cheng
,
Leonardo A. Clarke
,
Kris Correa
,
Catalina R. Cortés Salazar
,
Felipe Costa
,
Lenka Crhová
,
Ana Paula Cunha
,
Mesut Demircan
,
K. R. Dhurmea
,
Diana A. Domínguez
,
Dashkhuu Dulamsuren
,
M. ElKharrim
,
Jhan-Carlo Espinoza
,
A. Fazl-Kezemi
,
Nava Fedaeff
,
Chris Fenimore
,
Steven Fuhrman
,
Karin Gleason
,
Charles “Chip” P. Guard
,
Samson Hagos
,
Mizuki Hanafusa
,
Richard R. Heim Jr.
,
John Kennedy
,
Sverker Hellström
,
Hugo G. Hidalgo
,
I. A. Ijampy
,
Gyo Soon Im
,
G. Jumaux
,
K. Kabidi
,
Kenneth Kerr
,
Yelena Khalatyan
,
Valentina Khan
,
Mai Van Khiem
,
Tobias Koch
,
Gerbrand Koren
,
Natalia N. Korshunova
,
A. C. Kruger
,
Mónika Lakatos
,
Jostein Mamen
,
Hoang Phuc Lam
,
Mark A. Lander
,
Waldo Lavado-Casimiro
,
Tsz-Cheung Lee
,
Kinson H. Y. Leung
,
Xuefeng Liu
,
Rui Lu
,
José A. Marengo
,
Mohammadi Marjan
,
Ana E. Martínez
,
Charlotte McBride
,
Mirek Mietus
,
Noelia Misevicius
,
Aurel Moise
,
Jorge Molina-Carpio
,
Natali Mora
,
Awatif E. Mostafa
,
O. Ndiaye
,
Juan J. Nieto
,
Kristin Olafsdottir
,
Reynaldo Pascual Ramírez
,
David Phillips
,
Amos Porat
,
Esteban Rodriguez Guisado
,
Madhavan Rajeevan
,
Andrea M. Ramos
,
Cristina Recalde Coronel
,
Alejandra J. Reyes Kohler
,
M. Robjhon
,
Josyane Ronchail
,
Roberto Salinas
,
Hirotaka Sato
,
Hitoshi Sato
,
Amal Sayouri
,
Serhat Sensoy
,
Amsari Mudzakir Setiawan
,
F. Sima
,
Adam Smith
,
Matthieu Sorel
,
Sandra Spillane
,
Jacqueline M. Spence
,
O. P. Sreejith
,
A. K. Srivastava
,
Tannecia S. Stephenson
,
Kiyotoshi Takahashi
,
Michael A. Taylor
,
Wassila M. Thiaw
,
Skie Tobin
,
Lidia Trescilo
,
Adrian R. Trotman
,
Cedric J. Van Meerbeeck
,
A. Vazifeh
,
Shunya Wakamatsu
,
M. F. Zaheer
,
F. Zeng
, and
Peiqun Zhang
Free access
Peter Bissolli
,
Catherine Ganter
,
A. Mekonnen
,
Ahira Sánchez-Lugo
,
Zhiwei Zhu
,
A. Abida
,
W. Agyakwah
,
Laura S. Aldeco
,
Eric J. Alfaro
,
Lincoln. M. Alves
,
Jorge A. Amador
,
B. Andrade
,
Grinia Avalos
,
Stephan Bader
,
Julian Baez
,
M. Yu Bardin
,
E. Bekele
,
Guillem Martín Bellido
,
Christine Berne
,
A. E. Bhuiyan
,
Oliver Bochníček
,
Brandon Bukunt
,
Blanca Calderón
,
Jayaka Campbell
,
Elise Chandler
,
Hua Chen
,
Vincent Y. S. Cheng
,
Leonardo Clarke
,
Kris Correa
,
Felipe Costa
,
Lenka Crhova
,
Ana P. Cunha
,
Veerle De Bock
,
Mesut Demircan
,
Ricardo Deus
,
K. R. Dhurmea
,
S. Dirkse
,
Paula Drumond
,
Dashkhuu Dulamsuren
,
Mithat Ekici
,
M. ElKharrim
,
Jhan-Carlo Espinoza
,
Chris Fenimore
,
Chris Fogarty
,
Steven Fuhrman
,
Karin Gleason
,
Charles “Chip” P. Guard
,
S. Hagos
,
Richard R. Heim Jr.
,
Sverker Hellström
,
J. Hicks
,
Hugo G. Hidalgo
,
Hongjie Huang
,
Gerardo Jadra
,
G. Jumaux
,
K. Kabidi
,
Amin Fazl Kazemi
,
Mike Kendon
,
Kenneth Kerr
,
Valentina Khan
,
Mai Van Khiem
,
Mi Ju Kim
,
Natalia N. Korshunova
,
A. C. Kruger
,
Mónika Lakatos
,
Hoang Phuc Lam
,
Waldo Lavado-Casimiro
,
Tsz-Cheung Lee
,
Kinson H. Y. Leung
,
Tanja Likso
,
Rui Lu
,
Jostein Mamen
,
Izolda Marcinonienė
,
Jose A. Marengo
,
Mohammadi Marjan
,
Ana E. Martínez
,
C. McBride
,
Tristan Meyers
,
Noelia Misevicius
,
Aurel Moise
,
Jorge Molina-Carpio
,
Natali Mora
,
Johnny Morán
,
Claire Morehen
,
A. E. Mostafa
,
Juan J. Nieto
,
Yoshinori Oikawa
,
Yuka Okunaka
,
Reynaldo Pascual Ramírez
,
Melita Perčec Tadić
,
Vanda Pires
,
Kenny Quisbert
,
Willy R. Quispe
,
M. Rajeevan
,
Andrea M. Ramos
,
Cristina Recalde
,
Alejandra J. Reyes Kohler
,
M. Robjhon
,
Esteban Rodriguez Guisado
,
Josyane Ronchail
,
Benjamin Rösner
,
Henrieke Rösner
,
Frans Rubek
,
Roberto Salinas
,
A. Sayouri
,
Semjon Schimanke
,
Z. T. Segele
,
Serhat Sensoy
,
Amsari Mudzakir Setiawan
,
R. Shukla
,
F. Sima
,
Adam Smith
,
Jacqueline Spence-Hemmings
,
Sandra Spillane
,
O. P. Sreejith
,
A. K. Srivastava
,
Jose L. Stella
,
Tannecia S. Stephenson
,
Kiyotoshi Takahashi
,
Kazuto Takemura
,
Michael A. Taylor
,
W. M. Thiaw
,
Skie Tobin
,
Lidia Trescilo
,
Adrian Trotman
,
Gerard van der Schrier
,
Cedric J. Van Meerbeeck
,
Ahad Vazife
,
An Willems
, and
Peiqun Zhang
Open access
Tim Li
,
Abdallah Abida
,
Laura S. Aldeco
,
Eric J. Alfaro
,
Lincoln M. Alves
,
Jorge A. Amador
,
B. Andrade
,
Julian Baez
,
M. Yu. Bardin
,
Endalkachew Bekele
,
Elisangela Broedel
,
Brandon Bukunt
,
Blanca Calderón
,
Jayaka D. Campbell
,
Diego A. Campos Diaz
,
Gilma Carvajal
,
Elise Chandler
,
Vincent. Y. S. Cheng
,
Chulwoon Choi
,
Leonardo A. Clarke
,
Kris Correa
,
Felipe Costa
,
A. P. Cunha
,
Mesut Demircan
,
R. Dhurmea
,
Eliecer A. Díaz
,
M. ElKharrim
,
Bantwale D. Enyew
,
Jhan C. Espinoza
,
Amin Fazl-Kazem
,
Nava Fedaeff
,
Z. Feng
,
Chris Fenimore
,
S. D. Francis
,
Karin Gleason
,
Charles “Chip” P. Guard
,
Indra Gustari
,
S. Hagos
,
Richard R. Heim Jr.
,
Rafael Hernández
,
Hugo G. Hidalgo
,
J. A. Ijampy
,
Annie C. Joseph
,
Guillaume Jumaux
,
Khadija Kabidi
,
Johannes W. Kaiser
,
Pierre-Honore Kamsu-Tamo
,
John Kennedy
,
Valentina Khan
,
Mai Van Khiem
,
Khatuna Kokosadze
,
Natalia N. Korshunova
,
Andries C. Kruger
,
Nato Kutaladze
,
L. Labbé
,
Mónika Lakatos
,
Hoang Phuc Lam
,
Mark A. Lander
,
Waldo Lavado-Casimiro
,
T. C. Lee
,
Kinson H. Y. Leung
,
Andrew D. Magee
,
Jostein Mamen
,
José A. Marengo
,
Dora Marín
,
Charlotte McBride
,
Lia Megrelidze
,
Noelia Misevicius
,
Y. Mochizuki
,
Aurel Moise
,
Jorge Molina-Carpio
,
Natali Mora
,
Awatif E. Mostafa
,
uan José Nieto
,
Lamjav Oyunjargal
,
Reynaldo Pascual Ramírez
,
Maria Asuncion Pastor Saavedra
,
Uwe Pfeifroth
,
David Phillips
,
Madhavan Rajeevan
,
Andrea M. Ramos
,
Jayashree V. Revadekar
,
Miliaritiana Robjhon
,
Ernesto Rodriguez Camino
,
Esteban Rodriguez Guisado
,
Josyane Ronchail
,
Benjamin Rösner
,
Roberto Salinas
,
Amal Sayouri
,
Carl J. Schreck III
,
Serhat Sensoy
,
A. Shimpo
,
Fatou Sima
,
Adam Smith
,
Jacqueline Spence
,
Sandra Spillane
,
Arne Spitzer
,
A. K. Srivastava
,
José L. Stella
,
Kimberly A. Stephenson
,
Tannecia S. Stephenson
,
Michael A. Taylor
,
Wassila Thiaw
,
Skie Tobin
,
Dennis Todey
,
Katja Trachte
,
Adrian R. Trotman
,
Gerard van der Schrier
,
Cedric J. Van Meerbeeck
,
Ahad Vazifeh
,
José Vicencio Veloso
,
Wei Wang
,
Fei Xin
,
Peiqun Zhang
,
Zhiwei Zhu
, and
Jonas Zucule
Free access
Tim Boyer
,
Ellen Bartow-Gillies
,
A. Abida
,
Melanie Ades
,
Robert Adler
,
Susheel Adusumilli
,
W. Agyakwah
,
Brandon Ahmasuk
,
Laura S. Aldeco
,
Mihai Alexe
,
Eric J. Alfaro
,
Richard P. Allan
,
Adam Allgood
,
Lincoln. M. Alves
,
Jorge A. Amador
,
John Anderson
,
B. Andrade
,
Orlane Anneville
,
Yasuyuki Aono
,
Anthony Arguez
,
Carlo Arosio
,
C. Atkinson
,
John A. Augustine
,
Grinia Avalos
,
Cesar Azorin-Molina
,
Stacia A. Backensto
,
Stephan Bader
,
Julian Baez
,
Rebecca Baiman
,
Thomas J. Ballinger
,
Alison F. Banwell
,
M. Yu Bardin
,
Jonathan Barichivich
,
John E. Barnes
,
Sandra Barreira
,
Rebecca L. Beadling
,
Hylke E. Beck
,
Emily J. Becker
,
E. Bekele
,
Guillem Martín Bellido
,
Nicolas Bellouin
,
Angela Benedetti
,
Rasmus Benestad
,
Christine Berne
,
Logan. T. Berner
,
Germar H. Bernhard
,
Uma S. Bhatt
,
A. E. Bhuiyan
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Abstract

—J. BLUNDEN, T. BOYER, AND E. BARTOW-GILLIES

Earth’s global climate system is vast, complex, and intricately interrelated. Many areas are influenced by global-scale phenomena, including the “triple dip” La Niña conditions that prevailed in the eastern Pacific Ocean nearly continuously from mid-2020 through all of 2022; by regional phenomena such as the positive winter and summer North Atlantic Oscillation that impacted weather in parts the Northern Hemisphere and the negative Indian Ocean dipole that impacted weather in parts of the Southern Hemisphere; and by more localized systems such as high-pressure heat domes that caused extreme heat in different areas of the world. Underlying all these natural short-term variabilities are long-term climate trends due to continuous increases since the beginning of the Industrial Revolution in the atmospheric concentrations of Earth’s major greenhouse gases.

In 2022, the annual global average carbon dioxide concentration in the atmosphere rose to 417.1±0.1 ppm, which is 50% greater than the pre-industrial level. Global mean tropospheric methane abundance was 165% higher than its pre-industrial level, and nitrous oxide was 24% higher. All three gases set new record-high atmospheric concentration levels in 2022.

Sea-surface temperature patterns in the tropical Pacific characteristic of La Niña and attendant atmospheric patterns tend to mitigate atmospheric heat gain at the global scale, but the annual global surface temperature across land and oceans was still among the six highest in records dating as far back as the mid-1800s. It was the warmest La Niña year on record. Many areas observed record or near-record heat. Europe as a whole observed its second-warmest year on record, with sixteen individual countries observing record warmth at the national scale. Records were shattered across the continent during the summer months as heatwaves plagued the region. On 18 July, 104 stations in France broke their all-time records. One day later, England recorded a temperature of 40°C for the first time ever. China experienced its second-warmest year and warmest summer on record. In the Southern Hemisphere, the average temperature across New Zealand reached a record high for the second year in a row. While Australia’s annual temperature was slightly below the 1991–2020 average, Onslow Airport in Western Australia reached 50.7°C on 13 January, equaling Australia's highest temperature on record.

While fewer in number and locations than record-high temperatures, record cold was also observed during the year. Southern Africa had its coldest August on record, with minimum temperatures as much as 5°C below normal over Angola, western Zambia, and northern Namibia. Cold outbreaks in the first half of December led to many record-low daily minimum temperature records in eastern Australia.

The effects of rising temperatures and extreme heat were apparent across the Northern Hemisphere, where snow-cover extent by June 2022 was the third smallest in the 56-year record, and the seasonal duration of lake ice cover was the fourth shortest since 1980. More frequent and intense heatwaves contributed to the second-greatest average mass balance loss for Alpine glaciers around the world since the start of the record in 1970. Glaciers in the Swiss Alps lost a record 6% of their volume. In South America, the combination of drought and heat left many central Andean glaciers snow free by mid-summer in early 2022; glacial ice has a much lower albedo than snow, leading to accelerated heating of the glacier. Across the global cryosphere, permafrost temperatures continued to reach record highs at many high-latitude and mountain locations.

In the high northern latitudes, the annual surface-air temperature across the Arctic was the fifth highest in the 123-year record. The seasonal Arctic minimum sea-ice extent, typically reached in September, was the 11th-smallest in the 43-year record; however, the amount of multiyear ice—ice that survives at least one summer melt season—remaining in the Arctic continued to decline. Since 2012, the Arctic has been nearly devoid of ice more than four years old.

In Antarctica, an unusually large amount of snow and ice fell over the continent in 2022 due to several landfalling atmospheric rivers, which contributed to the highest annual surface mass balance, 15% to 16% above the 1991–2020 normal, since the start of two reanalyses records dating to 1980. It was the second-warmest year on record for all five of the long-term staffed weather stations on the Antarctic Peninsula. In East Antarctica, a heatwave event led to a new all-time record-high temperature of −9.4°C—44°C above the March average—on 18 March at Dome C. This was followed by the collapse of the critically unstable Conger Ice Shelf. More than 100 daily low sea-ice extent and sea-ice area records were set in 2022, including two new all-time annual record lows in net sea-ice extent and area in February.

Across the world’s oceans, global mean sea level was record high for the 11th consecutive year, reaching 101.2 mm above the 1993 average when satellite altimetry measurements began, an increase of 3.3±0.7 over 2021. Globally-averaged ocean heat content was also record high in 2022, while the global sea-surface temperature was the sixth highest on record, equal with 2018. Approximately 58% of the ocean surface experienced at least one marine heatwave in 2022. In the Bay of Plenty, New Zealand’s longest continuous marine heatwave was recorded.

A total of 85 named tropical storms were observed during the Northern and Southern Hemisphere storm seasons, close to the 1991–2020 average of 87. There were three Category 5 tropical cyclones across the globe—two in the western North Pacific and one in the North Atlantic. This was the fewest Category 5 storms globally since 2017. Globally, the accumulated cyclone energy was the lowest since reliable records began in 1981. Regardless, some storms caused massive damage. In the North Atlantic, Hurricane Fiona became the most intense and most destructive tropical or post-tropical cyclone in Atlantic Canada’s history, while major Hurricane Ian killed more than 100 people and became the third costliest disaster in the United States, causing damage estimated at $113 billion U.S. dollars. In the South Indian Ocean, Tropical Cyclone Batsirai dropped 2044 mm of rain at Commerson Crater in Réunion. The storm also impacted Madagascar, where 121 fatalities were reported.

As is typical, some areas around the world were notably dry in 2022 and some were notably wet. In August, record high areas of land across the globe (6.2%) were experiencing extreme drought. Overall, 29% of land experienced moderate or worse categories of drought during the year. The largest drought footprint in the contiguous United States since 2012 (63%) was observed in late October. The record-breaking megadrought of central Chile continued in its 13th consecutive year, and 80-year record-low river levels in northern Argentina and Paraguay disrupted fluvial transport. In China, the Yangtze River reached record-low values. Much of equatorial eastern Africa had five consecutive below-normal rainy seasons by the end of 2022, with some areas receiving record-low precipitation totals for the year. This ongoing 2.5-year drought is the most extensive and persistent drought event in decades, and led to crop failure, millions of livestock deaths, water scarcity, and inflated prices for staple food items.

In South Asia, Pakistan received around three times its normal volume of monsoon precipitation in August, with some regions receiving up to eight times their expected monthly totals. Resulting floods affected over 30 million people, caused over 1700 fatalities, led to major crop and property losses, and was recorded as one of the world’s costliest natural disasters of all time. Near Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Petrópolis received 530 mm in 24 hours on 15 February, about 2.5 times the monthly February average, leading to the worst disaster in the city since 1931 with over 230 fatalities.

On 14–15 January, the Hunga Tonga-Hunga Ha'apai submarine volcano in the South Pacific erupted multiple times. The injection of water into the atmosphere was unprecedented in both magnitude—far exceeding any previous values in the 17-year satellite record—and altitude as it penetrated into the mesosphere. The amount of water injected into the stratosphere is estimated to be 146±5 Terragrams, or ∼10% of the total amount in the stratosphere. It may take several years for the water plume to dissipate, and it is currently unknown whether this eruption will have any long-term climate effect.

Open access