From the UK to Pakistan, the weather in 2022: droughts, floods and cyclones

The climate crisis has once again reaffirmed its dramatic effects on a global scale: 2022 has once again been the scene of hurricanes, melting ice at the poles, terrible floods like the one in Pakistan, dramatic droughts like in Africa and cascading heat waves, rolled into one. Summer that broke temperature records in Asia and Europe.

Glacier melt has worsened, with record levels around the European Alps and sea level continuing to rise as a result on a planetary scale.

Specifically, Antarctica is losing its ice cap faster than ever and so is Greenland, where it rained for the first time in September and didn’t snow, according to the World Meteorological Organization (WMO).

A view of the sunset in Nuuk, Greenland.  climate balance in 2022
A view of the sunset in Nuuk, Greenland. EFE/Emile Helms

On the other hand, hurricane winds at the beginning of the year affected the southern African region, which was hit by hurricanes for two months, and Madagascar was the most affected country, where heavy rains were recorded, with devastating daytime floods.

Later, in September, Hurricane Ian in the Atlantic caused severe damage and many deaths in Cuba and also shook southwest Florida, Fiona also hit Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic hard.

Tragic floods in Pakistan

On the Asian continent, record rains this summer led to dramatic floods in Pakistan, affecting some 33 million people and killing more than 1,200, according to United Nations officials.

In Africa, Kenya’s ongoing drought, the worst in 40 years, has worsened after a fourth consecutive season of below-average rains, leaving more than 4.35 million Kenyans starving.

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On the other hand, beyond traditionally scorching pockets such as the Horn of Africa, the Persian Gulf, America or the Mediterranean Sea, high temperatures also shook much of northern Europe.

Giraffes in Kenya.  climate balance in 2022
Giraffes in Crescent, Kenya, in this file photo. EFE/Dai Kurokawa

In addition, China experienced the longest and most persistent heat wave in national records, with its second dry summer. In Wuhan, the Yangtze River reached an all-time low in August.

The World Meteorological Organization warned that “the past few years are on track to be the eight warmest years on record.”

heat in Europe

According to the services of the European Earth Observing Copernicus Programme, a prolonged episode of extreme heat this summer in Europe “could be the worst in 500 years” on the continent, with July much warmer than recorded in Western Europe.

In France, this May was the warmest month ever recorded so far as well as in Portugal, while in Spain it had only been surpassed before by 1964, with Seville reaching 41°C for the first time that month and Jaén with its warmest. A hot day in May.

Already in July the United Kingdom set a national record for the maximum temperature: 40.3 ° C, in Koningsby, Lincolnshire (east of the country), while in France, Germany or Poland exceptionally high values ​​were recorded.

temperature in the United Kingdom.  climate balance in 2022
A group of people shelter themselves from the heat in Westminster, London, in a photo taken from August 2022. EFE/Tolga Akmen

In hot Spain, 42 days have passed under a heat wave this summer, almost half of the season, which is three times the annual average for the past decade and six of the previous 10 years; Added to this, the surface temperature of the waters of the Mediterranean Sea is constantly higher than normal.

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Water stress due to low precipitation, with minimal reservoirs, combined with heat and drought have led to exceptional water limitations – also for human consumption – in the traditionally cold regions of Europe.

In regions like Catalonia, in Spain, restrictions still exist in certain population groups in the fall.

European rivers such as the Rhine, Loire and Danube have seen their respective flows drop this summer to very low levels, and the heat and lack of rain have been a breeding ground for massive fires due to the severely dry land.

According to statistics from the Copernicus Emergency Management System, with data through October, the end of the summer season, the total area burned up to that time in the European Union was more than 770,000 hectares, compared to an average of 280,000 hectares per year in the 2006-2021 period.

Destructive fires in Spain

The figures for Spain are chilling: around 300,000 hectares have been destroyed by fire so far in 2022 compared to an average of 60,000 hectares per year, five times more than usual.

Fire in Zamora.  climate balance in 2022
View of the area of ​​San Martín de Tabara (Zamora), affected by the fires that devastated the area in July. EFE/Maryam A. Montesinos

Large fires also spread in Greece, France, Portugal, Germany and the Czech Republic, and outside the continent in regions such as California (USA) huge forest fires occurred again.

On the other hand, according to the World Meteorological Organization (WMO), La Niña, usually associated with colder-than-normal weather globally, is likely to last into the end of winter in the Northern Hemisphere and could contribute to prolonged droughts or floods, Depending on where in the universe.

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