AUSTIN (KXAN) — The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration made great strides in 2022 in understanding Earth and its processes.
Below is a summary of NOAA’s greatest research accomplishments over the last year:
Greenhouse gas emissions
NOAA’s Mauna Loa Atmospheric Baseline Observatory measured the highest level of carbon dioxide on record (421 parts per million) in May, 50% higher than pre-industrial levels.
Confirmed 2021 human-emitted greenhouse gases trapped 50% more heat in the atmosphere when compared to 1990.
Yearly analysis showed significant improvements in lowering concentrations of ozone-depleting substances in the stratosphere (50% closer to 1980 levels).
New research on HFCs (potent greenhouse gases) helped push the U.S. government to approve the Kigali Amendment of Montreal Protocol, which aims to reduce HFC emissions by 2036.
Hurricane Hunters performed 72 research and operational missions.
Of note, hurricane researchers spent 12 consecutive days on 20 research missions through Hurricane Earl (August), the longest series of missions into a single tropical system ever conducted by the agency.
NOAA partnered with Saildrone Inc. to launch seven hurricane-tracking drones used to collect data in areas too dangerous to travel.
NOAA deployed underwater hurricane gliders, drifters, floats and probes — technology and tools used to better understand ocean environment during tropical cyclones.
New research showed Atlantic Coast hurricanes intensifying faster than 40 years ago, in addition to a 33% increase in the number of Atlantic hurricanes between 1980 to 2020 due to Atlantic Ocean warming.
NOAA maintained multi-agency partnerships to coordinate drought monitoring, forecasting & planning at local, state and national levels.
The new National Drought Action Plan was released in October 2022.
NOAA and partners launched a new website to help with messaging, health information and public decision-making.
The agency developed global forecast models that can forecast marine heatwaves up to a year in advance.
Researchers worked to understand the development and intensification of hurricanes and the impacts of coastal flooding. The research led to the release of NOAA’s “Coastal Inundation Capability Framework.”
Research proved widespread air pollution events are increasing in frequency and length, persisting longer and affecting larger geographic areas.
The surprising discovery showed wildfire smoke not only influences ozone pollution on a global scale, but also has an equal or greater impact on the remote atmosphere than urban pollution.
Data from the 2018 Camp Fire data proved the overall accuracy of smoke movement and concentration predicted by NOAA’s HRRR (High-Resolution Rapid Refresh) smoke model.
A 3.9 million square mile increase in the mapping of the ocean floor.
NOAA signed a memorandum of understanding for the U.S. to participate in “Seabed 2030”, an international initiative with a goal of mapping all ocean floors by 2030.
NOAA’s Voyage to the Ridge 2022 expedition explored areas four miles below the ocean surface. One of the dives led them to an underwater volcano with mysterious holes from an unknown organism. Another dive near St. Croix led to the discovery of an unknown blue organism that has yet to be identified.
NOAA Ocean Exploration program recovered:
At the bottom of the Gulf of Mexico: a 207-year-old whaling ship called “Industry” which helped shed light on American history of the time period.
In Southeast Alaska, the oldest stone fish weir ever found in the world, estimated to be 11,000 years old.