Heatwaves that last for days on end — coupled with regularly high average temperatures — created the third-hottest summer on record in the contiguous US this year.
New assessments from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) detail just how hot 2022 got in both the country and the rest of the world, which saw its fifth-hottest summer on record.
These sweltering few months were an unpleasant reminder of the climate crisis — and these records are likely to fall again in years to come as the planet continues to heat up.
In the meteorological summer — which lasts between June and August — average temperatures in the lower 48 states were 2.5 degrees Fahrenheit above normal.
The summer was also one for the record books in many states. This was the second hottest summer on the books in Texas, which saw repeated and brutal heatwaves as daily highs regularly climbed well above 100F (38C).
Washington, Oregon and Idaho also saw their hottest Augusts on record this year. At points over the month, even the usual cool coastal areas of the Pacific Northwest reached around 90F (32C).
Massachusetts and Rhode Island saw their second-hottest summers on record, NOAA says.
The country’s hottest summer ever is a tie between 2021 and 1936, but eight of the country’s top-10 hottest summers have come in the past 16 years. US temperature records go back every year since 1895.
Globally, the hottest summer ever was in 2016. Yet this year still featured devastating heatwaves — including mid-July heatwaves in the US and Europe — which helped push it into the top five on record.
Both North America and Europe had their hottest August on record, NOAA says, and North America saw its second-hottest summer ever.
So far, 2022 is the sixth-warmest year ever on Earth. NOAA says that there is 99 per cent chance the year will end up as one of the top 10 hottest years on record. All 10 of the top 10 hottest years recorded since 1880 have occurred in the past 17 years.
Summers — and the rest of the year — are likely to keep getting warmer on average over the coming decades as the climate crisis grows. As humans dump more and more carbon into the atmosphere, much of it from burning fossil fuels, the atmosphere will keep warming up.
In addition to heatwaves, this heating can exacerbate disasters like wildfires, droughts and intense storms — all of which are expected to become more intense in the near future.