How climate emergency impacted the world in 2022 | will it snow in florida


By Bidisha Saha, Dipti Yadav: The year that went by witnessed some of the worst weather events in the last two decades. In 2021, the COP26 climate summit brought the world’s attention to the ‘urgent need and the steps necessary to avert catastrophe.” The Paris Agreement decided on climate change to limit global warming to below 2°C – by having member countries actively participate to voluntarily reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

But even an increase of 1.15°C (according to data from the World Meteorological Organisation) in global average temperature is likely to lead to environmental impacts and widespread displacement as reported in 2022.

Climate change

UNDERWATER ERUPTION OF THE TONGA VOLCANO

On January 15, the eruption of the gigantic submarine volcano Hunga Tonga-Hunga Ha’apai in the South Pacific sea sent shock waves circling the globe while also releasing an enormous amount of water vapor into the stratosphere that could end up temporarily warming Earth’s surface, as reported by Nasa.

It has been termed as one of the largest volcanic eruptions that created the “tallest volcanic ash cloud” yet recorded shooting the debris up into the atmosphere. Atmospheric scientists noted that the seismic activity could ‘temporarily affect Earth’s global average temperature’ as the excess amount of water vapor would contribute to coaxing atmospheric cycles which in turn would lead to rapid depletion of the ozone layer – enough to ‘noticeably exacerbate climate change effects.”

Tonga volcano

ATHENS BLIZZARD: SNOWY ODYSSEY FOR STRANDED PASSENGERS

Heavy snowstorm starting January 24 caused traffic chaos in the city of Athens in Greece. In one of the worst blizzards the country faced in the past 14 years, called ‘Elpida’, thousands of train passengers and motorists were left stranded for over 17 hours in icy conditions as the regime lacked preparedness. The snowstorm that swept across the Mediterranean region smeared the ancient city in white underneath a dense blanket of graupel.

Athens snowstorm

THOUSANDS DISPLACED, HOMES BURNED: MARSHALL WILDFIRE IN COLORADO

Starting in December 2021, the Marshall wildfire fueled by gusty winds and unprecedented dry conditions continued into January engulfing over 1084 homes, damaging buildings and businesses, and prompting forced evacuations in Colorado. The fierce wildfire burned across 6,000 acres originating near the intersection of Marshall Road and Highway 93 in Boulder County. The fire decimated residential neighborhoods leaving behind an unusual trail of destruction as strong gusts of wind pushed the billowing flames in different directions.

Marshall fire

HAWAII’S SECOND ERUPTION OF KILAUEA VOLCANO

The seismic eruption of the Kilauea volcano occurred within an enclosed area of Hawaii National Park. An enormous amount of volcanic fumes were the primary hazard of concern. Sulfur from the fumes reacts with atmospheric air to create a visible haze or Vog (volcanic smog), which possesses the potential of creating airborne health hazards.

An enormous amount of volcanic fumes were the primary hazard of concern. (Photo: WorldView-2)

FLASH FLOODING IN EASTERN QUEENSLAND

Heavy downpours and thunderstorms turned streams into raging rivers near the eastern region of Queensland, including Australia’s third-largest city of Brisbane, south to New South Wales, and Sydney that continued throughout February, March, and April of this year.

Satellite images show before and after heavy rains and flooding outside Coolangatta on the Gold Coast. At least 22 people died and thousands were forced to evacuate from their homes. The severity of the floods propelled Prime Minister Scott Morrison to declare it a national emergency and note the catastrophic effects of climate change.

Aus flood

FLOODS RAVAGES YELLOWSTONE NATIONAL PARK

On June 13, Yellowstone National Park witnessed the worst floods in the past 500 years with substantial flooding, rockslides, and mudslides that cut the region of power, inundating roads and bridges, busting wastewater systems and prompting evacuations at the peak of the summer tourist season. Torrential rain and snowmelt fueled the ravaging floods in the northern parts of the park in the United States, which was covered with snow during that time as it was late to melt because of a cool spring.

WILDFIRES CLUTCH EUROPE

Dozens of wildfires throughout July prompted at least 36,000 evacuations as 11,000 acres of land burned in eastern Mediterranean countries including France’s south-western Gironde region, Portugal and Spain. More than 300 deaths were reported linked to heat waves. France’s firefighters’ federation had warned of the impact that global warming is having on civil protection. “It’s firefighters, civil security who deal with the effects daily – and these effects aren’t in 2030, they’re right now,” said Grégory Allione to BBC.

Europe wildfires

DROUGHT HITS GERMANY

August brought prolonged dry spells of months without rainfall that have led the water levels of Rhine, Oder, Spree, and other rivers to sink beyond record lows. The water levels on key waterways were at an unusually low level for weeks, reported Germany’s Federal Waterways and Shipping Administration.

German drought

ICELAND’S FAGRADALSFJALL VOLCANO ERUPTS

Starting in early August, the volcanic activity continued even after six months, sending shock waves and small earthquakes across neighboring areas of Grindavík and the Reykjavík capital near Fagradalsfjall volcano.

Photo: Planet Labs

CATASTROPHIC FLOODS IN PAKISTAN

One of the deadliest floods ever reported in world history displaced nearly 8 million people, affected 15% of the population, and killed at least 1700, including 647 children, and an additional 12,867 were injured. The floods reportedly induced by heavy rain were a result of accelerated glacier melt and landslides, both as a result of climate change, that inundated entire villages, houses, and key infrastructure. Among the severely affected areas are Sindh, Balochistan, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Gilgit-Baltistan, etc. Human Rights Watch also said that the floods show “the need for climate action”.

During his visit to flood-affected areas in Pakistan, United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said, “I have seen many humanitarian disasters in the world, but I have never seen climate carnage on this scale.” Primary humanitarian hazards include water-borne diseases, food shortages, shelter redevelopment, etc.

Pak flodd

WINTER DROUGHT IN SOUTHERN CHINA

A ‘red alert’ was declared for the first time in Jiangxi province of southern China after a prolonged drought that stretched for more than 70 days in Jiangxi, drying up much of the water in Gan River, which is a tributary to Poyang Lake.

China drought

TYPHOONS AND HURRICANES IN PUERTO RICO, JAPAN, AND FLORIDA

Puerto Rico, Canada and Florida

Hurricane Fiona brought torrential rain and flooding from September 19 to Puerto Rico in the Caribbean. It was also one of the most devastating cyclones to hit Canada and Florida on record and was considered ‘A category 4 Atlantic hurricane.’ Fiona entered Canada’s coastline on September 24 leaving thousands of residents without power and later traveled to Florida and south Florida crossing over Bermuda.

At least 31 deaths have been reported throughout the Caribbean and Canada from Hurricane Fiona. Key infrastructures of grid power were damaged, including substations and high-voltage power lines. Roads were ousted of the pavement due to heavy rainfall, roofs were torn off houses, a suspension bridge was completely washed away and about 33% of the population was left without drinking water.

Japan

Powerful typhoon Nanmadol was among the top five strongest typhoons to hit the Okinawa, and Kagoshima areas of Japan. Around 700 flights were canceled and there was a major disruption to train services along with nearly 7 million people being instructed to evacuate.

Hurricanes

VOLCANIC ERUPTION OF HAWAII’S MAUNA LOA

Hawaii’s Mauna Loa, the world’s largest active volcano, erupted for the first time since 1984 prompting evacuations of residents. An enormous amount of voluminous, fast-moving lava flows impacted communities on the east and west sides of the Big Island in Hawaii. It released toxic fumes of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere, which contributed to rising air and sea temperatures and wiped out some 96 percent of marine species and 70 percent of terrestrial species near the Hawaii coast, according to scientists.

Mauna Loa

LANDSLIDES IN SIKKIM

In early October, the mountainous region of Sikkim experienced heavy rainfall that is known to trigger numerous landslides resulting in the washing away of large land mass and disrupting road communication, water logging in the low-lying areas, rise in water level of rivers, damage to horticulture and standing crops & vegetables in the field, and reduction in visibility during heavy rainfall. Hundreds of tourists were stranded with their flights canceled in the northeastern state.

Sikkim landslide

NIGERIA FLOODS

In one of the most devastating episodes of seasonal floods in over a decade in Nigeria, incessant rain combined with poor urban planning put millions of lives at risk. As per the data from the Federal government, the floods displaced over 1.4 million people and killed over 603 people, and injured more than 2400. More than 200,000 houses and 266,000 acres of farmland were affected which could potentially increase food prices in the coming months. The disaster affected 27 of Nigeria’s 36 states.

Flooding in Nigeria in 2022. (Photo: GeoEye-1)

Crippling blizzard paralyzes US

A confluence of distinctive parameters formed a bomb cyclone also called “bombogenesis” or “explosive cyclogenesis” triggered by a rapid drop in atmospheric pressure that pummeled into northeastern US cities including Buffalo in New York. It is now being referred to as the worst blizzard in a century that engulfed the city with a thick blanket of over 4 feet of snow. At least 50 deaths have been reported so far causing major havoc to train services, traffic disruptions, and flight delays.

“Decisions made in the next few years will determine whether our existence on Earth as we know it will continue or collapse as a result of human activity” – as said in the World Economic Forum report. A Switzerland-based non-governmental organization highlighted the need to change the ways “societies interact with and affect the environment. It becomes more urgent as the tangible impacts of a planetary crisis accumulate – generating daily headlines about extreme weather events, pandemics, pollution, and a mounting shortage of essential natural resources.”

US blizzard

“Having ten separate climate disasters in the last year that each cost more than $3 billion to the financial cost of inaction on the climate crisis. But behind the dollar figures lie millions of stories of human loss and suffering. Without major cuts in greenhouse gas emissions, this human and financial toll will only increase,” said Patrick Watt, CEO of the international non-governmental organization, Christian Aid in its new report.

“The human cost of climate change is seen in the homes washed away by floods, loved ones killed by storms, and livelihoods destroyed by drought. This year was a devastating one if you happened to live on the front line of the climate crisis,” he added.



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