Guest post: Reviewing the summer of extreme weather in 2021

The most recent assessment report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC)– also published this summer– concluded that it is an “established reality” that human-caused warming is causing boosts in the frequency and strength of extreme weather condition events all over the world.

From heatwaves and cyclones in the United States to flooding in Europe and China, the weather over recent months has actually frequently struck the headings.

So, with the summer season ending for much of the northern hemisphere, this is an opportunity to recall at some of the extreme weather condition of the previous season and the effects it has had on the lives of millions of individuals.

The map below sums up the types of extremes that have struck various parts of the world this summertime– consisting of storms and flooding, heatwaves, wildfires and dry spell. The short article will cover them in turn, focusing predominantly on the northern hemisphere.

In spite of this knowledge, the extreme weather condition seen throughout this summer shows that, internationally, much of society still is not prepared for the effects of a changing climate.

Storms and flooding

Typhoon Elsa, in early July, was the very first to strike Barbados in more than 60 years. Hurricane Grace in mid-August brought damage and flooding to Haiti just days after an earthquake. It then advanced to end up being a cyclone– killing 8 individuals in Mexico..

Possibly the most prominent heatwave this summertime struck the Pacific north-west at the end of June. Portland, Oregon, broke temperature records on 3 successive days, with the hottest being 46.6 C (116F). More than 465 individuals died in Canada and analysis shows that the heatwave caused more than 600 excess deaths in Washington and Oregon. Other effects included power scarcities and melting homes.

In August, Hurricane Henri was the first tropical cyclone to make landfall in Rhode Island given that Hurricane Bob in 1991. (It is uncommon for a hurricane to travel that far north.) And Hurricane Ida caused destruction from Louisiana– where it made landfall– all the method approximately New York and New Jersey in the northeast..

Far from the Atlantic, Typhoon In-fa caused record-breaking flooding in China, requiring as numerous as one million people to relocate and killing 300.

More than 50 hurricanes, cyclones and extratropical storms made their existence felt throughout this years northern hemisphere summer season..

Dry spell.

Rain from hurricane Ida gushing into the New York City trainā€” David Begnaud (@DavidBegnaud) September 2, 2021.

In mid-August, a heatwave across the Mediterranean area caused excess deaths in Spain, Italy and Greece. Record-breaking temperatures were tape-recorded in Spain (47.2 C) and for Europe as a whole (in Sicily at 48.4 C). Tunisias capital city, Tunis, saw record-breaking temperature levels of 49C, which brought power failures to the city.

The map listed below shows a worldwide map of dry spell conditions in August, with the shading red, orange and yellow shading showing locations that have actually been drier than normal..

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Tunisias capital city, Tunis, saw record-breaking temperature levels of 49C, which brought power failures to the city.

Dry spell conditions as indicated by the Standard Precipitation Index for August 2021, with red, yellow and orange shading suggesting drier than regular conditions, white showing near-normal conditions, and purple revealing wetter than normal. Source: Generated using Copernicus Emergency Management Service details (2021 ).

For the northern hemisphere, the map shows that the United States and Canada stand apart for dry conditions. In June 2021, a continuous drought covered 39% of the US. At the time, more than 137 million individuals were affected by dry spell conditions.


In southwestern US, Lake Mead– the USs largest tank– is presently at its least expensive level given that it was developed in the 1930s, which is likewise impacting the Hoover Dams ability to generate electrical energy. There has actually been the very first water shortage declaration as an outcome in the United States.

Firemen and local volunteers extinguishing a fire on Evia Island in Greece. Credit: Sipa United States/ Alamy Stock Photo.

While dry spell conditions in a particular area regularly extend beyond a single season, this summertime has seen dry spells worsen and continue throughout the world..

River flooding in Germany, Belgium and the Netherlands in mid-July made heading news across the continent after leading to more than 180 deaths. The immediate reason for the floods was a slow-moving low-pressure weather condition system, but a fast attribution study discovered that human-caused environment modification had actually made the occasion up to 9 times more likely.

A boost in severe rainfall events are expected as a result of environment modification due to the fact that a warmer atmosphere can hold more wetness and can also enhance evaporation in some areas. Climate design projections show that practically the whole world is expected to see a boost in severe precipitation as it warms..

( In the southern hemisphere, the map reveals that Madagascars dry spell– explained as its worst in 40 years– has actually continued, and is now triggering extensive food lacks. The United Nations said the nation is on the edge of experiencing the worlds first “environment modification starvation”, according to BBC News. Brazil is also having its worst drought in 91 years.).

In other places, there were lethal flooding events unconnected with tropical cyclones. In Nigeria, for instance, floods triggered a bridge to collapse, killing 21 people. Ghana and Burkina Faso saw crops lost and roadways harmed during their monsoon season, while flooding in India caused landslides and at least 180 deaths..

Heat stress exposure over the summer season as shown by the Universal Thermal Climate Index (UTCI) monthly mean of day-to-day maxima. Source: Generated using Copernicus Climate Change Service info (2021 ).

Every area of the northern hemisphere in summer season was touched by record-breaking temperatures and severe heat in 2021 (see map lower down)..

The maps below program how heat stress exposure differed across the world in June (top), July (middle) and August (bottom), with purple shading showing “severe” conditions. The map shows that August saw heat tension of some kind in 74% of land regions.

In other places, a persistent heatwave in Siberia helped sustain wildfires all summer season, with “mind-boggling” temperature levels striking 48C. And Pakistan, northern India and parts of the Middle East also saw heatwaves, where temperature levels exceeded 52C in locations. (Jacobabad in Pakistan and Ras al Khaimah in the United Arab Emirates are two places where scientists have actually formerly taped a “wet-bulb” temperature level– which integrates temperature and humidity– going beyond 35C, which is the limit of what the human body can handle.).

Being extremes in temperature level, heatwaves are fundamentally linked to environment change and have increased in frequency and period globally. When standard temperature levels increase this in turn causes a raised possibility of extremes in temperature.

Substantial wildfires likewise hit much of the Mediterranean. In Israel, an area of 1,700 hectares was damaged– the worst fire damage seen in years.

The United Nations said the nation is on the edge of experiencing the worlds first “climate change scarcity”, according to BBC News.

Dry spell is yet another type of extreme weather condition where the impact of environment change can already be seen.

The dry and hot conditions that result in wildfires are increasing in some locations as the environment warms, including in the western US, Iberian Peninsula and Brazil. The way that the land is handled likewise contributes– for instance, forest management strategies can be used to assist avoid disastrous wildfires.

Wildfires impacted many regions of the world this summertime, and often accompanied other risks during this season. As mentioned above, devastating wildfires took hold across more than 1.5 m hectares of Siberia, with the smoke they produced even reaching the north pole 3,000 km away. This years fires are the biggest in Russias history.

A rapid attribution research study discovered that the event would have been almost impossible without environment change..

High tide of the Meuse river throughout floods in Germany after heavy rains. Credit: Abaca Press/ Alamy Stock Photo.

At the end of July, parts of North Africa and Europe were likewise hit by a heatwave. This brought record-breaking temperatures to Northern Ireland of 31.4 C in County Armagh and saw the very first “extreme heat caution” released in the UK. Preliminary figures from the UKs Office of National Statistics estimates that the heat led to between 400 and 800 excess deaths.

Somewhere else, a consistent heatwave in Siberia helped fuel wildfires all summer, with “mind-boggling” temperatures hitting 48C. And Pakistan, northern India and parts of the Middle East also saw heatwaves, where temperatures exceeded 52C in places. (Jacobabad in Pakistan and Ras al Khaimah in the United Arab Emirates are two places where scientists have actually formerly tape-recorded a “wet-bulb” temperature– which combines temperature level and humidity– surpassing 35C, which is the limitation of what the human body can cope with.).

Wildfires also hit North America once again this summer. The United States has seen around 2m hectares destroyed by fires, while Canada was struck by 300 active fires during July and the whole town of Lytton was burned to the ground in the state of British Columbia.

In Europe, heavy rains and mudslides in Turkey killed 17 individuals, while flash flooding in London in July triggered water to gush into London Underground stations.