The World Meteorological Organisation (WMO) released its statement on the status of the climate for 2011 in March, however I’ve only just had a chance to read it.
It confirms what most of us know: the impact of climate change is being felt. The WMO notes:
The year 2011 was a year of climate extremes around the world. Precipitation extremes, many of them associated with one of the strongest La Niña events of the past 60 years, had major impacts on the world. Significant flooding occurred in many places throughout the world, while major droughts affected parts of East Africa and North America. Global mean temperatures in 2011 did not reach the record-setting levels of 2010, but were still the highest observed in a La Niña year, and Arctic sea-ice extent fell to near-record-low levels. Global tropical cyclone activity was below average, but the United States had one of its most destructive tornado seasons on record.
The year was notable for disastrous flooding across the globe:
A major feature of 2011 was destructive flooding in many parts of the world, both long-lived flooding arising from major seasonal climate anomalies, and short-term or flash floods resulting from extreme events on timescales of days or hours.
Some may recall the floods in Brazil, the worst natural disaster in that country’s history:
In terms of loss of life, one of the most extreme single events occurred in Brazil on 11–12 January. A flash flood caused by rainfalls that exceeded 200 mm in a few hours in mountainous terrain about 60 km north of Rio de Janeiro caused at least 900 deaths, many of them as the result of a landslide. This was one of the worst natural disasters in Brazil’s history.
The report goes on to details record flooding in nearly every part of the world, detailing the lives lost and the billions of dollars of damage.
Sometimes a picture can paint a thousand words, as their map of the world highlighting extreme weather events:
It’s only when you stand back, and look at the totality do you see the full picture.