Between January and early December, there were 54,350 forest fires in the United States, responsible for burning over 2.8 million hectares. California was among the worst affected states, with more than 8,600 fires by the end of November.
The climate crisis increased drought and heat, two factors playing a crucial role in causing larger and more frequent fires.
Locust plague in Africa
Every year, swarms of locusts migrate from the Horn of Africa to reproduce further south. But climate change is resulting in bigger swarms, threatening food shortages in the region.
After a series of droughts and cyclical floods, extreme variations in climate the region occurring the year before created perfect breeding conditions for the insects. Fortunately, various initiatives are being launched to control the plagues, even though the best solution, of course, would be to halt climate change.
Cherry trees flowering earlier
To the great surprise of the Japanese, this year’s cherry blossom appeared almost a month earlier. This was the earliest annual flowering since records began, in the year 812. This year the flowering occurred on 26 March.
This was mainly due to climate change, said experts. As global temperatures rise, the last spring frosts end earlier and flowering comes forward. The date of maximum blossom changes every year, depending on several factors such as climate and rainfall, but the general trend is for it to occur earlier year by year.
Record typhoons in the Philippines
In April, Typhoon Surigae broke records. Its gales swiftly intensified to 170 kmph (105 miles per hour) in 36 hours, and reached 306 kmph (190 mph) at its peak, becoming the strongest typhoon, cyclone or hurricane ever observed in spring.
But even this was superceded in December by Typhoon Rai, which also struck the Philippines with sustained winds of up to 240 kilometers per hour. Scientists have warned that typhoons are becoming increasingly powerful and gain strength faster due to climate change.
And record temperatures
The World Meteorological Organization (WMO) ended 2021 recognizing a new maximum temperature reached in the Arctic. It occurred on 20 June 2020 when thermometers in the Russian town of Verkhoyansk recorded 38 degrees Centigrade (100 Fahrenheit). The temperature, more typical of the Mediterranean than Siberia, was measured at a weather station during an exceptional and prolonged heatwave in the region.
There were more record temperatures in 2021. WMO researchers are now verifying readings of 54.4°C, recorded in 2021 and 2020 in the world’s hottest location, Death Valley in California, and a new European record of 48.8°C reported this summer on the Italian island of Sicily.
Glaciers melting faster every year
Nature magazine published a study with alarming data earlier this year, which found the speed at which the world’s glaciers are melting has doubled over the past 20 years.
Researchers demonstrated that glaciers lost approximately 5,073 gigatonnes of mass between 2000 and 2019, the equivalent of 553,465,346 Eiffel Towers.
Fires in Greece, Italy and Turkey
In August, news of climate change focused on the enormous forest fires devastating swathes of Greece, Turkey and Italy. The fires broke out when a heatwave overcame the region and as a result the second largest Greek island, Evia, had to be evacuated.
According to Copernicus, the month of July this year was the hottest in Europe since records began. Indeed, desertification and drought, factors closely related to the proliferation of fires, are endangering several regions of the planet.
Floods in Europe and China
Fire was not the only protagonist this summer. Serious flooding overwhelmed cities in countries such as Germany and China, razing houses, streets and entire villages in their wake.
It rained in Greenland (and that’s not normal)
A large mass of Greenland ice experienced rain for the first time in recorded history. It was one of nine occasions in the past 2,000 years that the temperature of the precipitation exceeded freezing point.