There has been a surge of extreme weather events worldwide-- heatwaves, flash floods, drought, forest fires, storms, and much more. Within only the last week, the world has seen an unprecedented rise in temperature in China, leading to one of the worst heatwaves the country has faced in the last 60 years.
Europe has experienced devastating wildfires across the continent and South Asia is undergoing a rampage of floods in India, Pakistan, Afghanistan and Bangladesh. Many of these disastrous events have broken records of the decade, if not the century.
Internationally, climate experts and researchers have credited this rise in extreme weather events to Climate Change.
India: Heatwaves, Floods and Drought
India suffered through a heatwave of 200 days, which was a whopping increase from 36 heatwave days last year. This has been the longest heatwave in the country's recorded past. Meanwhile, several states are reeling under devastating floods, while major Indian states like UP and Bihar are under in a drought-like state.
The floods in North-east India have had a death toll of over 173 people and left over 29.70 lakh people affected.
Last month Assam and Meghalaya faced the worst floods they have seen in the history of the states, the floods broke a 122 year old record. Caused by heavy rainfall, thousands of villages were overwhelmed and hundreds were displaced from their homes.
India has seen floods countrywide with Odisha, Himachal Pradesh and the North-eastern states. Odisha was struck by floods earlier this week and already over 200,000 people have been impacted. Himachal Pradesh was struck by flash floods earlier this month, which triggered landslides in Lahaul and Spiti, Kinnaur, Kullu, Mandi and Sirmaur districts. Over 150 people were trapped in Lahul-Spiti.
South Asia: Flash Floods and Heatwaves
Pakistan experienced over 60% more than its regular rainfall this monsoon season. This has led to flash floods and landslides. Over one million people have been affected by the torrential downpour and an estimated 580 deaths with thousands more displaced.
The three provinces of Pakistan-- Balochistan, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Sindh have been the worst affected. Over 40 people have died in Karachi due to heavy rainfall since July.
Months before the disastrous rainfall was recorded, Pakistan also suffered through a blistering heatwave, peaking at 51 degrees Celsius in May.
Heavy rainfall set off a flash-flood in Afghanistan this week. Over 31 people were killed with dozens missing according to Taliban State-run news agency.
In the latter half of June, Bangladesh also experienced extreme torrential downpour and flash floods, leaving the north-eastern part of the country devasted. The flood-hit districts of Sylhet, Sunamganj, Netrokona and left over fourteen thousand victims.
Extreme Weather Events Found Undisputedly Linked With Climate Change
"Climate change will be bringing multiple different changes in different regions – which will lead to an increase in further warming. These changes will effect wetness and dryness, to winds, snow and ice, coastal areas and oceans," said the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Report in 2021.
“Climate change is already affecting every region on Earth, in multiple ways. The changes we experience will increase with additional warming,”Panmao Zhai, IPCC Working Group I Co-Chair
Researchers from the University of Oxford, Imperial College London and the Victoria University of Wellington reviewed the impacts of five different types of extreme weather events and to what degree these damaging events could be attributed to human induced climate change.
They found that for some extreme weather events, such as heatwaves, the link with climate change is clear and unequivocal across the world.
The extent of the impacts are likely being underestimated by insurers, economists and governments.
For others, such as tropical cyclones, the paper shows that important differences exist between regions and the role that climate change plays in each event is more variable than for heatwaves.
“The rise of more extreme and intense weather events such as heatwaves, droughts and heavy rainfall have dramatically increased in recent years, affecting people all over the globe. Understanding the role that climate change plays in these events can help us better prepare for them. It also allows us to determine the real cost that carbon emissions have in our lives.”Ben Clarke, University of Oxford
Human Activities Made 71% Extreme Weather Events More Severe
According to a recent analysis:
71% of the 504 extreme weather events and trends that were studied were found to be made more likely or more severe by human-caused climate change.
9% of events or trends were made less likely or less severe by climate change, meaning 80% of all events experienced some human impact.
Of the 152 extreme heat events that have been assessed by scientists, 93% found that climate change made the event or trend more likely or more severe.
For the 126 rainfall or flooding events studied, 56% found human activity had made the event more likely or more severe. For the 81 drought events studied, it’s 68%.
This analysis 'Mapped: How climate change affects extreme weather around the world' was done by Carbon Brief in August, 2022.
East and Central Asia: Flash Floods, Droughts, Worst Heatwave
China has been dealing with a triple whammy of flash floods, droughts as well as the worst heatwave the country has experienced in over sixty years. Temperatures have risen to over 44 degree Celsius in eight provinces.
This has caused the power supply in the country to be severely overexerted and has led to blackouts countrywide.
The heatwave has created a drought-like situation in the country leading to the Yangtze River drying up in many parts. China has now resorted to cloud seeding to induce rainfall.
Western China is suffering through flash floods due to heavy rainfall that have resulted in 16 death and 36 people reported missing. The floods have affected over 6,000 people.
There has also been extreme flooding in South Korea. The torrential rains have led to the country seeing a month’s worth of downpour in only a few days.
There have been at least nine confirmed deaths and with many more injured or missing. It has been reported that the average temperature of the Korean Peninsula has risen 1.7 degree Celsius since 1912.
Central Asia has also been reeling from heatwave in Kyrgyzstan and Turkmenistan, both countries breaking records in terms of temperature rise. This led to continuous power shortages
United States: Floods and Wildfires
The United States has also been reporting a series of extreme weather events in multiple different States. On 10th August, 2022, Death Valley, California experienced a record-breaking flood. Severe rains caused damage to roadways, infrastructure and carried away vehicles.
Park officials and meteorologists have named Death Valley flood a ‘once in a thousand years’ event.
Around 27th July, 2022, Kentucky underwent heavy rainfall that caused devasting floods across the Eastern parts of the state and led to a death toll of 38 with many still missing. There was grievous damaged to residential areas and mining town especially.
Wildfires have yet again started in California and Oregon. California wildfires are an annual occurrence in the United States, this year however, 14,000 hectares of forest was damaged and over 6,000 people displaced.
Europe: Record Breaking Heatwave and Wildfires
July 2022 saw the United Kingdom suffering through a record-breaking heatwave with temperatures hitting 40 degrees Celsius. The heatwave led to surge of fires countrywide, causing damages to multiple residential areas and created a drought-like situation in many parts of the country.
Approximately 840 deaths were recorded in England and Wales. The heatwave
Wildfires have run rampant in Western Europe, with 19 countries reported to be in extreme danger from the flames. Portugal, Spain and France bearing the brunt of the fires. Over 659,541 hectares have burned down according to data from the European Forest Fire Information system.
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