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

Mount Aery Baptist Church Cooling Center
Joe Amon
Connecticut Public
Visitors rest at the Mount Aery Baptist Church cooling center in Bridgeport, Connecticut, July 20, 2022.

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 that 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 bodies of water 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 that all of New England has 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 that 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 to 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.

Michayla Savitt is a reporter at WNPR. She was a newsroom intern in summer 2022, covering the environment, among other issues. Prior to that, Michayla was a production intern for WNPR's talk shows. She is an alumna of the CUNY Graduate School of Journalism health & science reporting program. Additionally, Michayla has worked in various non-profit and commercial radio newsrooms.