43 photos show how extreme weather and natural disasters have gotten more intense over the last decade

insider@insider.com (Joey Hadden)
hot vs cold weather

Gus Trompiz and Joan Faus/Reuters, Dylan Buell/Getty Images

Extreme weather patterns, both wet and dry, have been linked to climate change. This includes temperature, precipitation and lack thereof, and natural disasters.

storm

Jason Weingart/Barcroft Images/Barcroft Media via Getty Images

Source: Public Health

Severe weather linked to climate change varies in different regions.

Wildfire in Hawaii

Jolyn Rosa/Reuters

Source: National Geographic

 

But exposed mountain and coastal regions have proven more vulnerable to the increase in severe weather over time. In 1980, there were 291 catastrophic events related to weather and climate. In 2014, there were 904.

After the flood

Jonathon Nachman/Reuters

Source: National Geographic

That said, experts can't usually attribute climate change as the underlying cause of individual storms and disasters.

storm

Jason Weingart/Barcroft Images/Barcroft Media via Getty Images

Source: Smithsonian Magazine 

 

Rather, climate change can be linked to the overall increase in frequency and impact of these natural disasters.

storm

Jason Weingart/Barcroft Images/Barcroft Media via Getty Images

Source: Smithsonian Magazine 

 

One example of this is rising sea levels. Climate change is linked to glaciers melting, which results an increase in sea levels. While rising sea levels are not a natural disaster on their own, they can lead to natural disasters, such as flooding.

Iceberg in Antarctica

Alexandre Meneghini/Reuters

Source: National Geographic

About 160 billion tons of surface ice from the Greenland Ice Sheet, which covers 80% of Greenland, melted in July 2019 because of warmer temperatures, according to Reuters.

melting iceberg

Tom Miles/Reuters

Source: Reuters

The melted ice ends up in our oceans, causing sea levels to rise. Rising sea levels causes flooding in coastal cities and towns, like this residential area in Greenland.

melting glaciers

Tom Miles/Reuters

Source: Reuters

Experts predict that in the coming years, continuous climate change will lead to sea levels rising 10 to 32 inches by the end of the century, and storms (including hurricanes) will become stronger.

sea levels rising

Mario Tama/Getty Images

Source: National Geographic

Stronger storms like hurricanes and typhoons will likely do more damage to civilizations.

Phillipines after storm

Megan Rowling/Reuters

Source: National Geographic

One recent example of this is this severe damage caused by a super typhoon in China in 2018. According to National Geographic, the storm packed winds of up to 165 mph, and it may have been the strongest typhoon to his Hong King in 60 years.

post typhoon

Tyrone Siu/Reuters

Source: Reuters, National Geographic

In early 2019, a tornado hit the northwestern Providence of Liaoning in China.

2019 07 04T142647Z_1_LYNXNPEF63107_RTROPTP_4_CHINA WEATHER.JPG

David Stanway/Reuters

Source: Reuters

Tornados are rarely seen in this area, according to China's Global Times newspaper, and government forecasters linked this incident, along with other cases of "extreme weather," to climate change.

tornado disaster in china

David Stanway/Reuters

Source: Reuters

According to National Geographic, the global precipitation average is rising as well, and the trend is linked to climate change.

squall

Gary Hershor/Getty Images

Source: National Geographic

Guerrilla rain, a term coined in the last decade, describes a storm in which clouds form at the same time that moist air from the ocean comes up against the warm air trapped among tall, packed buildings to create quick and heavy downpours. They are on the rise in Tokyo, according to the Guardian. The storms form when moist ocean air meets the warm air that is trapped in between Tokyo's tall, tightly packed buildings.

rain in Japan

Jae C. Hong/AP Photo

Source: The Guardian

 

 

Experts say both floods and droughts are occurring more frequently and are likely to become stronger and more damaging, National Geographic reports.

flood rescue in china

Beijing Monitoring Desk/Reuters

Source: National Geographic

Warmer oceans cause wind speeds to increase, according to Yale Climate Connections.

Typhoon in China

China Stringer Network/Reuters

Source: Yale Climate Connections, Business Insider

According to Reuters, this flood in North Carolina last year was one of the ten worst climate-linked disasters of 2018.

flood

Sonia Elks/Reuters

Source: Reuters

During the flood, these dogs were left caged by an owner who fled.

flood

Sebastien Malo/Reuters

Source: Reuters

In mid-2019, the Hunan Province of China experienced severe flooding after heavy rain.

flood in china

Yang Huafeng/China News Service/VCG via Getty Images

Source: China Daily

Bangladesh also experienced severe flooding in mid-2019 ...

Flooding in Bangladesh

Munir Uz Zaman/AFP/Getty Images

Source: weather.com

...and it affected thousands.

Bangladesh flood

Zakir Hossain Chowdhury/Barcroft Media via Getty Images

Source: weather.com

In mid-2019, China experienced another flood due to heavy rain.

bamboo in china flood

David Stanway/Reuters

Source: Reuters

Up to 11 US states could see a 500% increase in the amount of annually burned land by 2039, according to a study funded by the US Forest Service Global Change Program.

Wildifre

Juan Medina/Reuters

Source: The US Forest Service Global Change Program, Business Insider

Although wildfires have always been a part of the American western ecosystem, fire season has increased by three months in the past few decades.

Wildfire in Hawaii

Jolyn Rosa/Reuters

Source: NPR

In mid-2019, Hawaii's governor declared an emergency on the island of Maui due to a large wildfire.

Wildfire in Hawaii

Jolyn Rosa/Reuters

Source: Reuters

The fire began with 20 mph winds and covered 9,000 acres.

wildfire in maui

Jolyn Rosa/Reuters

Source: Reuters

Climate change does not cause wildfires, but it does contribute to the increase in risk and damage done.

wildfire smoke

Tom Balmforth/Reuters

Source: Business Insider

Wildfires destroy 4-to-5 million acres of land in the United States each year, according to National Geographic.

wildfire aftermath

Rafael Marchante/Reuters

Source: National Geographic

Heat waves may not look extreme, but they can be deadly. In mid-July 2019, a four-day heat wave in western Europe killed seven people.

beach during heat wave

Gus Trompiz and Joan Faus/Reuters

Source: Reuters

Greenhouse gas emissions likely contributed to the extreme temperatures, according to the World Meteorological Organization.

heat wave in europe

Gus Trompiz and Joan Faus/Reuters

Source: Reuters

 

But global warming doesn't just make the world hotter — it's also been linked to more extreme winter weather. As early as October in 2019, the Northeast experienced what's known as a bomb cyclone.

storm nyc bomb cyclone

Getty ImagesThis is essentially the winter version of a hurricane with lighter winds.

nor'easter bomb cyclone

NOAA via Associated Press

Source: The New York Times

In December 2019, the Northeast also experienced what's called a snow squall, a sudden and intense burst of snow.

snow squall nyc

Frank Franklin II/AP

Source: Business Insider

The short-lived but intense combination of gusty winds and heavy snowfall makes it incredibly difficult to see through.

snow squall nyc

Frank Franklin II/AP

Source: Business Insider

The December 2019 snow squall made it through New York City in less than an hour.

snow squall new york

Kris Mobayeni/Reuters

Source: Business Insider

MIT climatologist Judah Cohen recently came up with an explanation for changing winter weather patterns — apparently, it's the Arctic.

FILE - In this Aug. 15, 2019, file photo, a large Iceberg floats away as the sun sets near Kulusuk, Greenland. As warmer temperatures cause the ice to retreat the Arctic region is taking on new geopolitical and economic importance, and not just the United States hopes to stake a claim, with Russia, China and others all wanting in. (AP Photo/Felipe Dana, File)

Associated Press

Source: Popular Science

"If the Arctic is cold, that favors less severe winter in the eastern US," he told Popular Science. "When the Arctic is warm, it's the opposite relationship. A warmer Arctic favors colder temperatures in the eastern US and heavier snowfall."

nuuk greenland ice melt

Sandy Virgo/Associated Press

Source: Popular Science

The polar vortex plays a part in this. The polar vortex is a band of strong winds high in the atmosphere that locks cold air around the Arctic region.

Polar Vortex Satellite Image

NOAA/Handout via Reuters

Source: The Guardian

 

But in early 2019, the vortex ventured south to the Midwestern states of the US, causing temperatures to drop to -20 degrees, and wind chills nearing -50 degrees.

Below freezing temperatures Chicago

Adam Gray/Barcroft Media via Getty Images

Source: Weather

The polar vortex dipping south of the North Pole can be linked to climate change.

coldfront in chicago

Adam Gray/Barcroft Media via Getty Images

Source: Business Insider

When warm air trapped in the atmosphere from greenhouse gases intrudes on the polar vortex, the disturbance in the vortex may cause the winds to be slower and wavier.

Polar Vortex, Chicago

Scott Olson/Getty Images

Source: Business Insider

While skeptics may dismiss climate change when extreme cold weather strikes, experts say that this theory comes from confusing weather with climate. Climate is the average of weather over time.

Wisconsin freeze over

Dylan Buell/Getty Images

Source: Business Insider

 

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