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article imageExtreme weather events marked the course of 2020

By Tim Sandle     Jan 3, 2021 in Environment
The past year has seen a number of extreme weather events, including storms, wildfires and heat waves. The causative link is climate change. A number of the events have caused considerable damage. Some of the most extreme events are presented.
In terms of extreme weather, Science News estimates that the U.S., as just one country, experienced some sixteen weather-related disasters. Some of these events ran up to several billions of dollars. This included late-season hurricanes Delta, Zeta and Eta.
Three examples of extreme weather events during the past year are:
Bushfires in southeastern Australia
The intense bushfires occurred between July 2019 and March 2020, and the extent of the damage was to scorch some 11 million hectares. In addition, dozens of people were killed. Climate scientists estimate that human-led climate change resulted in the fires being 30 percent more probable. This was due to a more severe and long-lasting heat wave.
The intensity of some of the fires was demonstrated by the formation of pyrocumulonimbus clouds, which produced hundreds of thousands of metric tons of smoke into the stratosphere. One smoke plume reached 31 kilometers into the atmosphere.
The first six-months of 2020 saw Siberia subjected to a major heat wave. This resulted in very high temperatures. The temperatures led to wildfires in the Arctic and the thawing of the permafrost.
Scientists estimated that human influence upon the climate made the occurrence of the heat wave at least 600 times as likely.
In terms of the wildfires specifically, the level of carbon dioxide produced into the atmosphere by the wildfires also created a new, unwanted record for the region.
Intense hurricanes
The Atlantic hurricane season, which typically runs from June to the end of November saw one of the highest levels of storms yet recorded. In all, 30 named storms were recorded, which was the highest number to date. The average for a season is 12.
In terms of the climate change connection, atypically warm Atlantic waters, caused by human activity, were one of the causative factors accounting for the number of hurricanes. Warming occurs as the ocean absorbs most of the excess heat from greenhouse gas emissions.
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