Top 10 climate events for 2010

Who knew, decades ago when scientists first began talking about global warming, that extreme weather events would be such a big part of the picture?

ClimateCentral has put together a simple yet interesting slideshow of the top 10 climate events of 2010. The photos show the record snowfall in the U.S. northeast in winter 2010, the Nashville floods of May 2010, people enduring the great heatwaves across Russia and the U.S. east coast last summer, and more.

Here’s the climate slideshow.

Greg Sword on flying drones and a locust plague in Australia in 2010

Satellite measurements indicate that 2010 was hot, globally. NOAA’s National Climatic Data Service says that January to November 2010 tied with January to November 2005 for being the hottest on record (instrument records go back to 1880). The data aren’t in yet on the year as a whole, but it’s safe to say that 2010 was a hot year.

How will we know if 2010 was the warmest year on record?

Still, global temps are just part of the story, as the human effects seem, each year, increasingly poignant. Who knew, several decades ago when scientists first began talking about global warming, that extreme weather events would be such a big part of the picture? Watching ClimateCentral’s slideshow, I thought about a friend and neighbor who, while visiting last night, mentioned the record rainfall in Los Angeles this month (nearly 700% higher than normal for December for Los Angeles county). He was worried because his 89-year-old mom lives out there, and, he said, the heavy rains had caused phone outages across the county.

Meanwhile, my biggest personal climate disaster of 2010 actually started a year earlier, in the summer of 2009, at the tail end of a two-year drought here in central Texas. In the city park near my home, where I walk and swim throughout the year, I watched throughout the summer of 2009 as large trees I’d enjoyed for 35 years slowly but irrevocably died of thirst. I made dozens of phone calls and sent dozens of emails to the city, but could not get them to send their watering trucks to the trees, because, they said, our chief city arborist was advising the city that drought is “natural” and the trees would be okay. They were not.

In the summer of 2009, many trees in my local city park died of thirst, after a severe two-year drought. In 2010, the city cut down dozens of trees in my park and made them into mulch.

Have you noticed extreme weather where you live? Tell me your climate story.

Deborah Byrd