Extreme Events of 2012: Global to Local Responses

January 9, 2013


Deke Arndt, Chief of the Climate Monitoring Branch, National Climatic Data Center

There were many extreme weather events around the globe during 2012. Let’s take a look at the climate context.

Climate.gov presents Extreme Events of 2012: Global to Local Responses

Arctic sea ice reached a record low—about half the normal September area based on the 34-year satellite record. Over four and a half million square miles of ice melted, the largest annual sea ice loss on record for the Arctic.

Climatologists are interested in how this sea ice loss affects wind and temperature not only in the Arctic but at lower latitudes in the United States, Europe and Asia.

The entire Northern Hemisphere was warm during 2012. Drought affected agricultural regions in North America, Europe, eastern Russia, the Ukraine, and Kazakhstan. These warm conditions impacted grain yields, water supplies, and heat-related illness. Global food prices rose by 10 percent during July.

Major flooding battered other regions throughout the year.

During July, at least 32 people were killed in Japan as a year’s worth of rain fell in one weekend in some areas.

In August, the Philippines saw heavy monsoon rains that brought severe flooding. Eighty percent of the capital city of Manilla was under water, impacting 2.4 million people.

Beijing, China, also saw torrential rainfall, with daily totals normally expected over a period of two months.

Four typhoons struck Korea—something that hasn’t happened in the past five decades—and more than 200 people died.

Learning how our neighbors around the world cope with and adapt to extreme events can help us make better decisions, become more resilient, and be “climate smart.”

For climate.gov, I’m Deke Arndt.



Extreme Events of 2012

2012—Warmest La Niña year on record