36 photos show how extreme weather and natural disasters have gotten more intense over the years

Extreme cases of hot, cold, wet, and dry weather are becoming more intense as the climate changes.

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Extreme cases of hot, cold, wet, and dry weather are becoming more intense as the climate changes.
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Gus Trompiz and Joan Faus/Reuters, Dylan Buell/Getty Images


Extreme weather patterns, both wet and dry, have been linked to climate change. This includes temperature, precipitation and lack thereof, and natural disasters.

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Jason Weingart/Barcroft Images/Barcroft Media via Getty Images

Source: Public Health


Severe weather linked to climate change varies in different regions.

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Smoke from a wildfire in Hawaii.
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Jolyn Rosa/Reuters

Source: National Geographic


But exposed mountain and coastal regions have proven more vulnerable to the increase in severe weather over time. In 1980, there were 291 catastrophic events related to weather and climate. In 2014, there were 904.

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Flooding is more common than it used to be.
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Jonathon Nachman/Reuters

Source: National Geographic


That said, experts can’t usually attribute climate change as the underlying cause of individual storms and disasters.

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Jason Weingart/Barcroft Images/Barcroft Media via Getty Images

Source: Smithsonian Magazine


Rather, climate change can be linked to the overall increase in frequency and impact of these natural disasters.

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Jason Weingart/Barcroft Images/Barcroft Media via Getty Images

Source: Smithsonian Magazine


One example of this is rising sea levels. Climate change is linked to glaciers melting, which results an increase in sea levels. While rising sea levels are not a natural disaster on their own, they can lead to natural disasters, such as flooding.

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An iceberg floats in Andvord Bay, Antarctica.
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Alexandre Meneghini/Reuters

Source: National Geographic


About 160 billion tons of surface ice from the Greenland Ice Sheet, which covers 80% of Greenland, melted in July 2019 because of warmer temperatures, according to Reuters.

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The Greenland Ice Sheet formed over thousands of years from layers of snow compressed into ice.
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Tom Miles/Reuters

Source: Reuters


The melted ice ends up in our oceans, causing sea levels to rise. Rising sea levels causes flooding in coastal cities and towns, like this residential area in Greenland.

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Rising sea levels in Greenland in 2019.
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Tom Miles/Reuters

Source: Reuters


Experts predict that in the coming years, continuous climate change will lead to sea levels rising 10 to 32 inches by the end of the century, and storms (including hurricanes) will become stronger.

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In 2018, the threat of rising seas prompted California officials to raise Newport Beach’s sea walls 9 inches.
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Mario Tama/Getty Images

Source: National Geographic


Stronger storms like hurricanes and typhoons will likely do more damage to civilizations.

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Typhoon damage in the Philippines in 2013.
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Megan Rowling/Reuters

Source: National Geographic


One recent example of this is this severe damage caused by a super typhoon in China in 2018. According to National Geographic, the storm packed winds of up to 165 mph, and it may have been the strongest typhoon to his Hong King in 60 years.

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Typhoon damage in China.
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Tyrone Siu/Reuters

Source: Reuters, National Geographic


In early 2019, a tornado hit the northwestern Providence of Liaoning in China.

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Rare case of tornado damage in China.
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David Stanway/Reuters

Source: Reuters


Tornados are rarely seen in this area, according to China’s Global Times newspaper, and government forecasters linked this incident, along with other cases of “extreme weather,” to climate change.

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Rare case of Tornado damage in China.
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David Stanway/Reuters

Source: Reuters


According to National Geographic, the global precipitation average is rising as well, and the trend is linked to climate change.

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A snow squall in New York.
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Gary Hershor/Getty Images

Source: National Geographic


Guerrilla rain, a term coined in the last decade, describes a storm in which clouds form at the same time that moist air from the ocean comes up against the warm air trapped among tall, packed buildings to create quick and heavy downpours. They are on the rise in Tokyo, according to the Guardian. The storms form when moist ocean air meets the warm air that is trapped in between Tokyo’s tall, tightly packed buildings.

Source: The Guardian


Experts say both floods and droughts are occurring more frequently and are likely to become stronger and more damaging, National Geographic reports.

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Flooding in China.
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Beijing Monitoring Desk/Reuters

Source: National Geographic


Warmer oceans cause wind speeds to increase, according to Yale Climate Connections.

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Typhoon in China.
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China Stringer Network/Reuters

Source: Yale Climate Connections, Business Insider


According to Reuters, this flood in North Carolina last year was one of the ten worst climate-linked disasters of 2018.

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Flooding in North Carolina in 2018.
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Sonia Elks/Reuters

Source: Reuters


During the flood, these dogs were left caged by an owner who fled.

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Flooding in North Carolina in 2018.
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Sebastien Malo/Reuters

Source: Reuters


In mid-2019, the Hunan Province of China experienced severe flooding after heavy rain.

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Flooding in China in 2019.
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Yang Huafeng/China News Service/VCG via Getty Images

Source: China Daily


Bangladesh also experienced severe flooding in mid-2019 …

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Flooding in Bangladesh in 2019.
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Munir Uz Zaman/AFP/Getty Images

Source: weather.com


…and it affected thousands.

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Flooding in Bangladesh in 2019.
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Zakir Hossain Chowdhury/Barcroft Media via Getty Images

Source: weather.com


In mid-2019, China experienced another flood due to heavy rain.

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Flooding in China in 2019.
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David Stanway/Reuters

Source: Reuters


Up to 11 US states could see a 500% increase in the amount of annually burned land by 2039, according to a study funded by the US Forest Service Global Change Program.

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A wildfire in Spain in June 2019.
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Juan Medina/Reuters

Source: The US Forest Service Global Change Program, Business Insider


Although wildfires have always been a part of the American western ecosystem, fire season has increased by three months in the past few decades.

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Wildfire in Maui in 2019 captured from above.
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Jolyn Rosa/Reuters

Source: NPR


In mid-2019, Hawaii’s governor declared an emergency on the island of Maui due to a large wildfire.

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Wildfire in Maui in 2019.
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Jolyn Rosa/Reuters

Source: Reuters


The fire began with 20 mph winds and covered 9,000 acres.

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Wildfire in Maui in 2019.
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Jolyn Rosa/Reuters

Source: Reuters


Climate change does not cause wildfires, but it does contribute to the increase in risk and damage done.

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Smoke from wildfires in the Republic of Sakha.
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Tom Balmforth/Reuters

Source: Business Insider


Wildfires destroy 4-to-5 million acres of land in the United States each year, according to National Geographic.

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The aftermath of a Peruvian wildfire in 2003.
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Rafael Marchante/Reuters

Source: National Geographic


Heat waves may not look extreme, but they can be deadly. In mid-July 2019, a four-day heat wave in western Europe killed seven people.

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European beaches filled up during the heat wave in July 2019.
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Gus Trompiz and Joan Faus/Reuters

Source: Reuters


Greenhouse gas emissions likely contributed to the extreme temperatures, according to the World Meteorological Organization.

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A man cools down from the blistering heat in July 2019.
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Gus Trompiz and Joan Faus/Reuters

Source: Reuters


The polar vortex is a band of strong winds high in the atmosphere that locks cold air around the Arctic region.

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NOAA/Handout via Reuters

Source: The Guardian


But in early 2019, the vortex ventured south to the Midwestern states of the US, causing temperatures to drop to -20 degrees, and wind chills nearing -50 degrees.

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Chicago in January 2019.
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Adam Gray/Barcroft Media via Getty Images

Source: Weather


According to Business Insider, the polar vortex dipping south of the North Pole can be linked to climate change.

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Chicago experienced an ice storm in February 2019.
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Adam Gray/Barcroft Media via Getty Images

Source: Business Insider


When warm air trapped in the atmosphere from greenhouse gases intrudes on the polar vortex, the disturbance in the vortex may cause the winds to be slower and wavier.

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Chicago experienced an ice storm in February 2019.
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Scott Olson/Getty Images

Source: Business Insider


While skeptics may dismiss climate change when extreme cold weather strikes, experts say that this theory comes from confusing weather with climate, according to Business Insider. Climate is the average of weather over time.

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Lake Michigan on January 30, 2019 in Kenosha, Wisconsin.
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Dylan Buell/Getty Images

Source: Business Insider