Extreme weather events hit the globe from Alaska to Australia

Unprecedented extreme weather events are hitting countries around the world and it points to a costly and deadly future.

Unprecedented wildfires in Alaska. A collapsed glacier in Italy. Another strong heat wave in the US. Fourth flood in New South Wales since March…

Extreme weather events are hitting our planet.

And it points to an expensive and deadly future.

Get used to it, scientists say. This is our artificial new normal.

The atmospheric tides and currents that determine our weather are getting stronger and changing course.

Weather is nature’s heat pump – an attempt to balance temperatures around the world.

But these shifts become more rapid and pronounced as the atmosphere gets hotter.

Extreme heatwaves in Europe, the US and Asia this summer in the northern hemisphere represent a reversal of jet streams – intense but narrow westerly winds that circle the globe.

The story is similar in the south. Shifting currents flow over Antarctica, causing it to warm four times more than the average for the rest of the planet.

When these jets change course, thermal domes can form in one place and extreme precipitation bubbles in another. But, basically, this means that the normal weather patterns that people have been accustomed to for centuries are falling apart.

And the consequences are unfolding before our eyes.

North American wildfires

The snow melts earlier every year. Every year it settles on the ground later.

This means that Alaska’s vast forests are drier than ever before.

But changing weather patterns mean that the type of weather on the Arctic frontier has changed.

The warm jet stream is moving north. And it brings tropical storms with it.

And that means lightning.

Between July 2 and 4, about 17,770 lightning strikes occurred in Alaska. This is the most intense surge ever recorded in this region.

And this lightning struck a powder keg.

So far, about 930,000 hectares have been burned. The course is set for another record year. And fires are breaking out in ecosystems that have so far remained relatively untouched. Burning treeless tundra in southwestern Alaska.

Hot and dry weather has spread to Canada.

Vancouver reported more than 130 sudden deaths in three days last week. It reached the highest temperature ever recorded – 49.6°C. New wildfire warnings are now being issued in the pristine Yukon region.

A dangerous “thermal dome” is currently under construction in the south-central US.

Texas has already set all-time heat records. Now extreme temperature warnings have been issued to 65 million people from Austin to Des Moines. Other famous cities such as Helena, Nashville, Kansas City and Chicago will soon be in his arms.

glacier collapse

Europe is in the grip of a heat wave. And the heatwave that has set all-time temperature records in Italy isn’t just wilting crops and sending people to the beaches.

The hot air rose higher and higher. And it is destroying long-established boundaries of snow and undermining glaciers.

The day before the collapse of the devastating Marmolada Glacier in the Italian Alps, temperatures of 10°C were recorded at its 3,400-foot summit. This has not been seen there before.

When the ground under the steep ice became slippery with mud, a massive chunk broke off. A heavy avalanche accelerated down the slope to speeds up to 300 km/h.

“Over the past few decades, the melting of glaciers in the Alps has accelerated due to global warming, which has made the high mountains of Europe an increasingly dangerous and unpredictable environment,” warns University of Bristol professor Jonathan Bramer.

Seven tourists died. Many others remain missing. And the highlanders and the tourism industry began to look with horror at the shrinking ice fields.

They are not the only ones. Melting glaciers are rapidly becoming a problem around the world. Majority recent IPCC report warns that permafrost temperatures are rising everywhere, from the European Alps and Scandinavia to Canada and Asia.

Switzerland, Austria, France and Germany have initiated glacier monitoring programs to assess the risk of collapse. Other countries may have to follow suit.

“The collapse of the Marmolada glacier is a natural disaster directly related to climate change,” says Professor Paul Christoffersen from the University of Cambridge. “High altitude glaciers like the Marmolada are often steep and depend on low temperatures below zero degrees Celsius to keep them stable.”

floods

In New South Wales, about 50,000 residents have been ordered to evacuate due to flooding following intense downpours over the weekend. But Sydney is not the only victim of severe flooding.

In June, more than 12 cm of rain fell due to the hurricane in Yellowstone National Park. Combined with rapidly melting snow, streams and rivers quickly overflow their banks, destroying roads and buildings and forcing 10,000 people to evacuate.

This is just another example rapidly growing trend.

“The fact that the world has experienced multiple flood event records recent years — including catastrophic floods in Australia, Western Europe and China — are no accident,” says Colorado State University researcher Dr. Francis Davenport.

“Three effects of climate change in particular are creating an increased risk of flooding: more intense precipitation, changing snow and rain patterns, and the impact of wildfires on the landscape.”

The warmer the air, the more moisture it can hold.

Each 1°C increase represents an additional 7% increase in precipitation.

This also means that regions that normally receive precipitation as snow fall as heavy rainfall. And areas affected by fires often change so that less rain seeps into the soil, increasing runoff into streams and rivers. This increases the risk of flooding.

“This combination of wildfires followed by heavy rains will also become more frequent in the future with stronger warming,” warns Dr. Davenport.

Asian extremes

China and Japan are also in the grip of heatwaves. And record temperatures (in one Japanese city the temperature exceeded 40°C) are combined with historic rains.

Tokyo authorities have been forced to ask businesses and homeowners to reduce energy consumption after nine days of record temperatures. Air conditioning requirements threaten to upset the power grid.

This is the longest heatwave since records began in 1875. And for the first time in June, the temperature reached 40°C.

At the same time, severe thunderstorms and heavy rains hit the southern Japanese islands. It set new rainfall records, with one city receiving 37 cm of rain in 12 hours.

Record temperatures were also recorded in Shanghai and Beijing.

Meanwhile, heavy rains hit the country. The provinces of Shandong, Jilin and Liaoning experienced record rainfall in June.

And it has damaged infrastructure, crops and the environment.

The reasons there are the same as in Australia, the USA and Europe.

Warm air can hold more moisture.

“As the Yellowstone region and other flood-affected mountain communities recover, they will have to find ways to adapt to a riskier future,” concludes Dr. Davenport.

Originally published as Extreme weather events hit the globe from Alaska to Australia