Accessibility links

Breaking News

Extreme Weather Dominated 2010

Residents of La Gabriela neighborhood who lost their homes when a landslide buried some 30 houses and trapped dozens beneath mud and rubble following weeks of drenching rains, rest while rescue workers search for survivors in Bello, northwestern Colombia,

Worldwide, 2010 will be remembered as the year of extreme weather. From floods in Pakistan to mudslides in China, nature dominated much of the headlines.

As Americans greeted winter, state highway departments demonstrated their latest snow plow techniques... And their mountain of salt for de-icing roads.

Snow plow drivers showed how cumbersome it was to drive a plow... And reflected on 2010's extreme winter.

In February, more than 50 centimeters of new snow fell on top of 90 centimeters of snow from a few days earlier.

On the other side of the globe, snow shut down Beijing with temperatures as low as minus 16 degrees celcius.

But while Washington and Beijing dug out, others sweated it out later in summer.

Hot and cold

"2010 is on track to be one of the three warmest years on record," said Omar Baddour, from the World Meteorological Organization.

Here's why: First in Washington -- stiffling summer heat. Earlier in June -- 32 degrees celsius -- in Moscow! A month later in Russia... forest fires...And mass evacuations. August in China, mudslides and torrential rains.


In Pakistan, devastating floods put a fifth of the country underwater. Also in August, a fourth of Greenland's ice shelf fell into the sea.

A noticable difference can be witnessed by watching time lapse photos over a four year period from the climate change project Extreme Ice Survey.

Bill McKibben has been alerting readers about global warming for the last 20 years.

"The Arctic is melting quickly, Russia caught on fire this summer, Pakistan drowned, the ocean is 30 percent more acid than it used to be. We are in tough shape with less than a degree of temperature increase," he said.

Scientists say that single degree could increase substantially by the end of this century, even counting colder winters in some places.

Climate change

Amanda Staudt of the National Wildlife Foundation co-authored a study about climate change.

"What surprised me was that 2010 may actually be considered a mild year in 2050 or at least an average or typical year," she said.

So Staudt and like-minded researchers say we should all get ready for more of this.

But American climatologist Patrick Michaels disagrees.

"For all those other threats, we adapted and/or they were exaggerated," he said. "Why would this one be any different?"

Michaels says history has proven that humans always adjust to climate changes. His prediction is that our bodies, our dwellings, our attitudes will all change.

One thing is sure -- temperatures globally rose in 2010, and, scientists predict, they will rise again in 2011. It's a trend we'll all have to warm up to, they say.