New England sees record heat in 2022, as nation faces $165 billion in annual climate disaster damage

Visitors rest at the Mount Aery Baptist Church Cooling Center Bridgeport, Connecticut July 20, 2022.

Visitors rest at the Mount Aery Baptist Church Cooling Center Bridgeport, Connecticut July 20, 2022. (Joe Amon/Connecticut Public)

Five of the six New England states saw record warm temperatures last year – part of a larger regional trend driven by climate change.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) said earlier this month Connecticut, Maine and New Hampshire recorded their 10th warmest years, with Rhode Island and Massachusetts seeing their fifth and sixth warmest years, respectively, on record.

Karin Gleason, with NOAA’s National Center for Environmental Information, attributed the region’s rapid warming to coastal New England waters, which she said are warming faster than other water bodies on the planet.

“Being near warmer waters helps to actually warm those land locations,” Gleason said.

She said more southerly winds are also flowing into the region, which is “leading to a higher trend in that warming.”

Research shows New England and all of its states have warmed considerably over the last century. The greatest warming has been during winter, but every season is seeing higher overall temperatures.

More and more of these heat records have been happening in recent decades, Gleason added. 

We’re seeing the vast majority of the ‘top 10’ years occurring in the last 20-to-30 years versus the entire 128-year period of record,” she said.

Evidence shows climate change’s impact on the world has also worsened in the same time period. Extreme weather has claimed twice as many lives from 2000-2019, compared to the 20 years prior, a U.N. report shows.

Just this year, the U.S. sustained about $165 billion in damages from 18 climate disasters, NOAA reports. Record-breaking drought conditions also impacted various regions of the country.

This story was originally published by Connecticut Public, a partner of the New England News Collaborative.