Extreme weather conditions in 2018 show the impact of climate change

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By Nikita Raina

The destructive floods which devastated Kerala, killing hundreds, displacing over a million and creating damages worth $3bn, was considered to be the worst disaster the South Indian State faced in hundred years.

This was the latest extreme climate event to hit India, which is ranked 6th most affected country in Climate Risk Index -2018.

“It was expected that extreme weather events would increase because of climate change, and it is happening across the globe,” Malti Goel, former advisor, department of science and technology and founder, Climate Change Research Institute, Delhi told Livemint.

This year countries across the globe faced various natural disasters and extreme climatic events, both in summer and winter.

East Africa witnessed some of the worst floods the region has ever seen. Began in March, the floods that hit Kenya, Ethiopia, Uganda, Rwanda, Somalia, Djibouti, and Burundi was the result of excessive rains in the region that was under drought in the previous year. Hundreds died and tens of thousands were displaced.

In July, Japan came under torrential rains, leading to flash floods and landslides killed at least 200 people and caused immense damage.

An extended heat wave set record-breaking high temperature across the Northern Hemisphere throughout June and July of 2018.

A heat wave with a record 41.1 degree Celsius hit Japan and more than 22,000 people were taken to the hospital.

Parts of Europe and North America as far as north Arctic Circle faced months of dry conditions and heat, leading to massive wildfires. Preliminary analysis by scientists attributed this to climate change.

“We estimate that the probability to have such a heat or higher is generally more than two times higher today than if human activities had not altered climate,” a team led by Friederike Otto, a climate modeller at the University of Oxford, UK said.

The wildfire in California was one of the worst in history. Heatwaves brought drought and wildfires to Europe from Greece, where 91 people died in a fire in July. It reached up to Sweden. In Portugal, it burned down 28,000 hectares of land.

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Hot temperatures also brought a huge bloom of toxic algae on either side of the Baltic Sea.

The winter was unusually harsh too. Parts in Europe such as London and Rome recorded temperatures dropping below freezing points after being hit by a blast of icy air dubbed the “Beast from the East”.  But at the same time, Arctic, in a rare instance remained warmer than the rest of Europe.

A study this year has said that hurricanes over Atlantic are intensifying far more rapidly than they did 30 years ago.

Last year, for the first time, scientists have asserted the link between extreme climate events and the role of Global Warming.

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