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Earth’s weather during 2010 – 2011 the most extreme in years


Here’s some interesting weekend reading for extreme weather buffs courtesy of Dr. Jeff Masters from the Weather Underground. Dr. Masters has put together a review of the severe weather events which affected the world during 2010 and also discusses 2011 events such as the severe weather recently experienced in the U.S.

The premise of his article is that he believes that the global weather events experienced during 2010 and 2011 could add up to be the most extreme period of global weather since 1816 when the earth’s weather changed temporarily due to a major volcanic eruption in Indonesia.

The extreme weather events and features of 2010/11 he discusses include:

  • Earth’s hottest year on record
  • Most extreme winter Arctic atmospheric circulation on record resulting in major snowfall
  • The lowest volume of Arctic sea ice on record
  • Record ice melting in Greenland
  • The second most extreme shift from El Niño to La Niña on record
  • The second worst coral bleaching year
  • The wettest year over land areas on record
  • The Amazon rainforest experienced its second drought in five years
  • Globally, tropical cyclone activity was the lowest on record
  • However the Atlantic saw the third busiest hurricane season on record
  • The rare south Atlantic tropical storm
  • The strongest storm in southwestern U.S. history
  • The strongest non-coastal storm in U.S. history
  • The weakest and latest ending east Asian monsoon on record
  • The lack of monsoon depressions in India’s southwest
  • The devastating floods in Pakistan
  • The heat wave and drought in Russia
  • Record rainfall and flooding in Australia
  • Record rainfall and the worst flooding on record in Colombia
  • Tennessee’s record 2010 floods

The records have continued to be set in 2011 with the recent spell of tornadoes and severe thunderstorms in the U.S. (some details on the expected losses here) and the warmest and driest spring in many years in parts of Europe (some details here).

It’s an interesting review of some of the severe weather events in recent times, many of which have caused billions in losses to re/insurers. If nothing else, what his article brings home, is the unpredictable nature of our climate and the important role that reinsurance, risk transfer and weather risk management have to play in enabling countries and their populations to recover after extreme weather events.

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