Natural disasters of 2020 that were caused by climate change
Different environmental disasters occurred this year. From extreme heat waves to disastrous hurricanes, 2020 has shown us the potential damage global warming can cause in the years to come. In the United States alone, at least 16 climate related issues have cost the US government more than $1 billion.
Here are some of the major weather events that occurred this year:
Dubbed as Australia’s “black summer,” the bushfires burned southern Australia between July 2019—March 2020, scorching over 11 million hectares and killing dozens of people. The cause of the fire: a prolonged and severe heat wave that baked the country in 2019 and 2020, which scientists agree was increased by climate change.
The intensity of the fires also led to the formation of towering pyrocumulonimbus clouds that launched hundreds of thousands of metric tons of smoke into the stratosphere. Although it’s not completely clear yet, such an amount of smoke could have a devastating impact on Earth’s ozone layer.
Wildfires in the United States
The US also experienced record-setting wildfires. By mid-November, more than 9200 fires in California had burned about 1.7 million hectares—more than double the acreage burned in 2018. Colorado also battled three of the largest wildfires in its history.
Rising temperatures in both Colorado and California, caused by climate change is responsible. In California alone, the average heat and dryness in both summer and autumn have become more severe, dramatically increasing the number of days each year prone to extreme fire weather conditions.
From January through July, Siberia was in the grips of a powerful heat wave that led to record-breaking temperatures, never before experienced wildfires in the Arctic, and thawing permafrost. Temperatures in Siberia—with temperatures as high as 38° Celsius (about 100° Fahrenheit)—would have been impossible without climate change. Scientists report that human influence made the heat wave at least 600 times as likely—and possibly as much as 99,000 times as likely.