Explaining Extreme Events of 2014 from a Climate Perspective is a report linking extreme weather events to human causes on all continents, except Antarctica.
Storms such as the one shown on the right, which blew in off Lake Erie last November and dumped a year’s worth of snow in a week on western New York state, are in part linked to human-caused climate change, according to a newly released study by the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).
The report, titled Explaining Extreme Events of 2014 from a Climate Perspective, looked at individual extreme weather events such as wildfires, floods and winter storms (such as the deadly polar vortex) and found links to human causes on every continent except Antarctica. Here is a look at photos from some of the most recent and dramatic extreme weather events from Canada and around the world.
Last October, record-breaking downpours led to damaging floods in parts of southern France, including the seaside Languedoc-Roussillon region, where rapidly rising waters upended cars.
In the Pacific Ocean, Hurricane Iselle — the strongest tropical cyclone to hit the Big Island of Hawaii in recorded history — was preceded by massive surf like these waves pounding the shore at Pohoiki last August. Damaging winds caused widespread power outages and nearly wiped out the island’s papaya crop.
Heavy rains soaked southwest Manitoba, too. The NOAA report specifically mentioned climate change and land use (farmers draining wetlands) playing a role in floods across the Canadian Prairies in 2014 — a year that saw many low- lying areas, including the airport in Brandon, inundated.
The hottest summer on record in parts of Brazil — including Sao Paulo, where this dam holds back nothing but dirt — contributed to severe drought and drinking water shortages in 2014. However, the report did not link every event with climate change. Droughts in particular could have more to do with mismanagement and population growth than CO2 emissions, the report says.
The extreme weather trend continued into 2015. In India, it got so hot in May that road markings melted in New Delhi. Nearly 2,000 people are reported to have died as temperatures approached 50 C in parts of the country.
Many Western Europeans endured the hottest July on record this year, driving holiday-makers, like these people in Haltern, Germany, to the coast in droves. The widespread, long-lasting heat wave affected much of France, Britain, Belgium, the Netherlands and western Germany.
A hot, dry July in western North America led to an active wildfire season, especially in Saskatchewan, where thousands of rural residents were evacuated on the heels of fast-moving flames. Here, a wind-whipped blaze approaches the La Ronge airport. Smoke from fires in the West blew all the way across the country this summer.
South of the border, destructive wildfires burned tens of thousands of hectares of drought-parched forest from Washington state to California, where a state of emergency was called for several communities in the Napa Valley wine region. Here, firefighters battle the so-called Rouge Fire in the Sequoia National Forest in August.
In a related report in July, NOAA said increasing temperatures in the Earth’s oceans, some of which also hit record highs last year, likely play a part in the frequence and severity of storms — such as this one rolling over Sydney Harbour in Australia on Nov. 6.
NOAA’s recent findings come weeks before world leaders, including Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, are scheduled to gather in Paris for the COP21 World Climate Summit, running from Nov. 30 to Dec. 11.