This post was co-written with Forbes Tompkins, an intern with WRI's Climate and Energy Program.
Last month, Death Valley, California experienced the highest June temperature ever recorded (129 degrees F!). Fires have been blazing in the western United States, leading to catastrophic losses of life. We’re barely more than a month into summer in the Northern Hemisphere, and it has started off extreme.
These events come on the heels of an extreme spring globally, which was marked by low snow cover in Eurasia, record rainfall in China, drought in California, and floods in Bangladesh.
The pattern for extreme events that we saw in 2012 continued into 2013. In early 2013, parts of the Southern Hemisphere witnessed record-high temperatures, with Australia experiencing its hottest month in January 2013 since record-keeping began more than a century ago. Meanwhile, the central and northeastern United States saw record snowfall and blizzard conditions. Precipitation continued to be extreme throughout the spring, with Spain seeing its wettest March on record and China experiencing its wettest May since 1973. At the same time, New Zealand saw its worst drought in three decades, and California experienced its driest year-to-date.
Our timeline is by no means comprehensive, but reminds us how extreme events can affect global communities and citizens’ lives, livelihoods, infrastructure, and ecosystems. And it gives us a picture of what a warmer world can bring. The science linking extreme events to global warming continues to become stronger. If we want to reverse the trends that we are seeing, we must not only invest in disaster relief and prevention, but also significantly curb global greenhouse gases.
Hilary Ross and Daniel Melling also contributed to the creation of the timeline.
- TELL US YOUR STORY: Did we miss a major extreme event? Tell us about it in the comments section below. We may add it to the extreme weather timeline!