With global warming driven by greenhouse gas emissions, both intensity and frequency of heatwaves is steadily increasing over the world. According to the Berkeley Earth, the last eight years are the warmest eight years, while June 2022 was the warmest June on land since records began in the mid-1800s.
In 2022, multiple intensive heatwaves in Asia, America, Europe, North Africa, and Oceania have shattered many temperature records. This article provides a brief overview of recording-breaking heatwaves around the world in 2022.
1. United Kingdom
In July 2022, an unprecedented heatwave hit the United Kingdom. The London authority issued its first-ever red extreme heat warning for parts of England on 15 July, declaring a national emergency .
On 19 July 2022 (Tuesday), the UK recorded its highest-ever temperature shortly before 12:00 GMT, when it reached 40.2°C (104.4°F) at London’s Heathrow Airport . Minutes later, a new national temperature record of 40.3°C (104.5°F) was reported in Coningsby, 130 miles north of London [3, 4].
This is the first time the temperature exceeded 40°C in the United Kingdom. The previous high of 38.7 °C (101.6°F) was recorded in 2019. Generally, normal summer high temperatures near London fall between 20-25°C (68-77°F) . Given that only about 3% of homes in the U.K. have air conditioning , the hottest heatwave in the U.K. is indeed intolerable for residents and citizens.
On 20 July 2021, the 40.1 °C (104 °F) threshold was crossed for the first-ever time in Hamburg, Germany  — a city farthest north in the country. Hamburg (53.5 North latitude) is farther north than London (51.5 North latitude) and at about the same latitude as Edmonton, Canada.
On 14 July 2021, temperatures in Portugal hit 47 °C (116.6 °F) – a record for July in the country . Most of the country has been placed under high fire danger by the national meteorological office IPMA, BBC News reported .
4. United States
During May 2022, US heatwave brings historically high temperatures to dozens of states, with temperatures between 20 and 30F above average for that time of year in the mid-Atlantic and north-east . On 10 June 2022, a historic heatwave affected the Midwestern and Southeastern United States. A record temperature of 45.6 °C (114 °F) was tied in Phoenix . In Death Valley, temperature climbed to 51 °C (123 °F). Although it is secondary to the highest record, but it is the first time that the high temperature maintained for two straight days .
On 25 June 2022, a record of 44.2°C (111.6°F) was observed in Lingshou in Hebei Province, China .It is the hottest temperature on record there.
On 13 July 2022, China’s largest city, Shanghai, suffered its equal hottest day since records began in 1873, with the mercury topping 40.9 °C (105.6 °F) . Shanghai issued its first red heat alert of the summer on 10 July 2022 (Sunday).
In late June 2022, Japan saw its hottest heatwave in 150 years.On 25 June 2022, Japan recorded the highest temperature of 40.2°C (104.4°F) in Isesaki, a city about 50 miles northwest of Tokyo . This set a national heat record for the month of June since records began in 1875.
7. North Africa
On 13 July 2022, the temperature in the capital city of Tunis reached 48°C (118°F), breaking a 40-year record .
8. Antarctica and Arctic Circle
In mid-March 2022, record-breaking heatwaves hit both Antarctica and the Arctic simultaneously. On Friday March 18, Concordia, the Italian-French research station located 3,200 meters above sea level in the heart of Antarctica, recorded an all-time high of -11.8°C (110.8°F), 40C above seasonal norms . Russia’s Vostok station in East Antarctica also hit a provisional high of -17.7°C (15°C higher than previous record of -32.6°C /-26.9°F for the March month .
Meanwhile, a similar hot weather pattern occurred in the Arctic. Svalbald, in Norway, recorded a new maximum temperature of 3.9℃ – 30℃ above the March average . On 23rd June 2022, the city of Norilsk, Russia, had its hottest day on record when the temperature hit 32°C (89.6°F) .
9. India and Pakistan
In March-April 2022, an intense and long-lasting heatwave sweep through northern India and Pakistan, with temperatures hitting a record 49.2°C (120.5°F) in parts of the capital, Delhi. The temperature in these areas is 5 to 7 °C higher than normal . Although the figure is not record-breaking, the duration of the heatwave is virtually unprecedented according to Indian Meteorological Department. The last time such a heatwave was experienced was 122 years ago .
In Pakistan, Jacobabad reached 49 °C on 30 April 2022 (Saturday) and Nawabshah hit 49.5 °C on 1st May 2022 (Sunday) – likely the highest temperature on record for the Northern Hemisphere so far in 2022 .
On 13 January 2022, a severe heatwave hit Western Australia. In the coastal city of Onslow, the temperature matched a heat record of 50.7 °C (123.3 °F) for hottest temperature for the entire Southern Hemisphere, set on 2 January 1960 (62 years ago), at Oodnadatta Airport in South Australia . According to local media, the average January high temperature in Onslow is 36.5°C.
In January 2022, a historic heatwave has hit several countries of South America, with Argentina suffering the worse impacts. On 12 January 2022, the hottest temperature of 45 °C (113 °F) was recorded at Rivadavia, Argentina . The capital Buenos Aires reached 41.1 °C (106.0 °F) – its second highest temperature since records started in 1906 . Many other Argentinian stations also broke their all-time hottest temperature on record.
12. Adaptation to extreme heatwaves
In 2022, the extreme heatwaves we are experiencing globally have no precedent. With global warming, it is certain that heatwave will become more frequent and intensive around the world in coming years. It will be a great challenge for people in the affected areas to adapt to the extreme hot climate.
One important measure is to avoid wildfire and ensure safety. As experienced in recent years, scorching heatwaves often spark large wildfires resulting in losses and deaths. Another important measure may be to foster climate resilience by ensuring reliable access to electricity, food, and clean water.
13. Ambitious actions are needed to mitigate climate warming
Global average temperature has increased 1.2 °C, compared to the pre-industrial level. Washington Post reported that the average summer temperature in Western America in the past five years has been 1.5°C (2.7 °F) warmer than it was from 1971 through 2000 . Recently, Nature conducted an anonymous survey of the 233 living IPCC authors and received responses from 92 scientists. The result indicates that six in ten of the respondents expect the world to warm by at least 3°C above the pre-industrial level by 2100. In 2020, the Met Office issued projections suggesting that the highest temperature in Britain will reach 43°C by 2050 – 2.7 °C higher than the present record. Therefore, ambitious actions are needed to address climate emergency and avoid the worst impacts of climate change.
- “Heatwave: National emergency declared after UK’s first red extreme heat warning”. BBC News, 2022-06-16.
- Saric, I. & Freedman, A. Historic U.K. heat wave pushes temperatures past 40°C for first time. Axios, Jul 20, 2022.
- Samenow, J. and Feuerstein, J. Britain’s freakish heat demolished records. Here’s what happened. Washington Post, July 20, 2022.
- Kirby, P. Heatwave: Ferocious European heat heads north. BBC News, 20 July 2022.
- Helmore, E. US heatwave brings historically high temperatures to dozens of states. The Guardian, 21 May 2022.
- Samenow, J. Extreme heat sets records from California to Texas and will swell east. Washington Post, 11 June 2022.
- Freedman, A. More global heat records are broken, from the Arctic to Japan. Axios, 27 June 2022.
- Liu, Z. China heatwave brings record high temperatures to Shanghai and other cities. South China Morning Post, 14 July 2022.
- Samenow J. Japan tops 104 degrees for first time in June amid record heat wave. Washington Post, 25 June 2022.
- Pratt, S.E. and Nasa Earth Observatory. Extreme Record-Breaking Heat: Heatwaves and Fires Scorch Europe, Africa, and Asia. SciTechDaily, July 19, 2022.
- Bergstrom, D. M. Record-smashing heatwaves are hitting Antarctica and the Arctic simultaneously. University of Wollongong, 23 March 2022.
- Cullinan, K. Record-breaking Heatwaves in India and Pakistan Affect Over Billion People. Health Policy Watch, 27 April 2022.
- Rosane, O. Record-breaking heat wave strains ‘limits of human survivability’ in India and Pakistan. World Economic Forum, 9 May 2022.
- Patel, K. Australia hits 123 degrees, tying highest temperature on record in Southern Hemisphere. Washington Post, 13 January 2022.
- Perring, R. ‘Only the beginning!’ Buenos Aires braced as ‘brutal, historic’ heatwave smashes Argentina. Jan 12, 2022.
- Phillips, A., Dennis, B., Samenow, J., Muyskens, J. and Ahmed, N. Summer in America is becoming hotter, longer and more dangerous. Washington Post, 2 July 2022.