Climate Crisis and the Environment

Climate Events Of 2020

Photograph of a globe resting on grass
Rebecca Herman

2020 has been a roller-coaster from the very start; testing our climate to the max and exhausting all it has to offer. Unlike many of our personal lives, the climate stopped for nothing this year and really proved its power to us. From fires, to greenhouse gases, to oil spills, to icebergs, here’s the ultimate list of climatic events that graced planet earth this year!


If you cast your mind back all the way to January 2020, you may remember the Australian bushfires. These devastating fires hit all the states of Australia, hitting New South Wales the hardest. Australia experiences these harsh blazes annually during their hot, dry summers but conditions are exacerbated by severe droughts and powerful winds.

Climate change experts state that warming global temperatures are responsible for more recent extreme weather—leaving the future of Australian summers unknown and scary.

Australia wildfires: Here’s what you need to know about the deadly blazes – CNN


And February of 2020 did not look any brighter with Somalia declaring a state of national emergency due to a swarm of locust hitting East Africa. Heavy rain made Somalia and other parts of East Africa a dream get-away for locust pushing them leave Yemen and make the journey over the Red Sea.

Somalia declares emergency over locust swarms – BBC News


March. The month you’ve been waiting for. The month where countries globally shut down and stopped production in aid to control the Coronavirus.

These events should remind us about how fragile our climate is

Although March was the beginning of such a dreadful time for families all over the world, national lockdowns meant the climate had a break from its usual stresses and finally showed us the benefits of Covid-19. Water sources became transparent, pollution levels plummeted, and native species flourished. 2020 showed us that if we try to fight climate change head-on, anything is possible.

Coronavirus shutdowns have unintended climate benefits: Cleaner air, clearer water (


And just when we needed a bit of sunshine to brighten our days, the UK received 5 consecutive sunny days, a record unbroken since 1929 according the Met Office analysis. The head of the National Climate Information Centre, Dr McCarthy also adds that the temperatures of April 2020 were significantly warmer than normal—and, you guessed it, you can blame climate change for that.

Record-breaking April sunshine – Met Office


As we entered the summer months, the climate continued to surprise us. Miami saw its wettest May since 1968 with a mighty 18.89 inches! I’m sure this down-pour is just what the trees of Florida ordered! Heavier rains can be expected to increase in frequency as the Earth’s temperature warms due to the Climate Crisis.

Miami had its wettest May on record with 18.89 inches, breaking the record of 18.54 inches from May 1968. – Bing


June saw another state of emergency, but this time it was for Russia. On the 4th of June, 20,000 tons of oil spewed out into the Arctic Circle from the Siberian city of Norilsk after a fuel tank and power station collapsed.

We should educate ourselves and make a conscious effort to limit future change

There was a criminal investigation as to whether this event was a result of negligence, but what we do know this that this intense level of sudden pollution is potentially catastrophic for the local environment, biodiversity, and the climate.

Arctic Circle oil spill prompts Putin to declare state of emergency – BBC News


Image of Hurricane Hanna as seen from the International Space Station

Hurricane Hanna as seen from the International Space Station

Between the 23rd and 27th of July, the USA experienced the first hurricane of the season: Hurricane Hanna. Hanna first slashed south Texas with winds exceeding 90 mph forcing local authorities to issue a weather warning. Fortunately, the threat of the hurricane was lowered to a storm as winds slowed slightly yet the original weather warning remained. Its time like these which remind us just how powerful and unpredictable climatic events can be.

Hurricane Hanna: Flood threat remains despite weakening – BBC News


On a similar note, August also saw a huge wind event but this time it was a derecho—a rapid storm which follows a straight path. Taking place in the Midwest, this immense derecho swept 770 miles in just 14 hours! Although this phenomenon is rare, it is certainly destructive- sweeping through infrastructure and sadly taking lives. $7.5 billion worth of damage was caused.

August Midwest Derecho Was Costliest to Hit the U.S. in 4 Decades, NOAA Says – The Weather Channel


On a more positive note, Sir David Attenborough joined Instagram on September 24th at the ripe age of 94—proving it’s never too late to start. Attenborough, most recently famous for climate advocacy, not only joined Instagram last year but also broke the record by reaching 1 million followers in just 4 hours and 44 minutes. If everyone were as keen to learn about climate change as much as following David, who knows what state the climate would be in now?

Sir David Attenborough Reaches 1M Instagram Followers In Hours, Breaking World Record –


And while we are on the note of British classics, in October 2020 the UK has its wettest day on record. The Met Office confirmed that the 3rd of October saw the most amount of rain since 1891—thanks to Storm Alex which drenched Britain with a mighty 31.7 mm. “Continued climate change” means we should expect this record to broken again soon.

Extreme weather: October downpour sees UK’s wettest day on record – BBC News


In terms of flooding, in November 2020, Sardinia in Italy was victim to extreme and catastrophic flash flooding—once again a natural occurrence which is worsening with climate change. Heavy rain triggered a series of floods and landslides which washed though towns destroying homes, cars, and claiming 3 lives. Some areas experienced more than 150mm of rain in under 36 hours. Climate change “has detectably influenced” factors which increase the likelihood of floods, according to the IPCC.

Italy – Deadly Flash Floods in Sardinia – FloodList


And finally, our close friend December who we only saw off a short while ago made sure to leave 2020 with a climatic event we won’t forget in a hurry. In December 2020, the A68 iceberg—the largest iceberg on earth, broke off from the Larsen C ice shelf and found its way into the Southern Atlantic Ocean after departing from the Antarctic Peninsula in 2017.

What’s more it seems South Georgia is in the iceberg’s pathway, they are now approximately 31miles away from each other! But fear not, it seems as though the iceberg will anchor in the shallow waters before it causes any damage. More icebergs are to be expected from the Antarctic Peninsula as “warming continues”.

Huge iceberg breaking up off South Georgia Island is still a threat –

So, there you have it, 12 wild climate events to match an equally wild year. Although not all events last year were terrible, they should all remind us about how fragile our climate is and how important it is to educate ourselves and make a conscious effort to limit future change. Happy New Year!

Rebecca Herman

Featured image by Guillaume de Germain on Unsplash. Image licence found here. No changes made to this image.

In article image of Hurricane Hanna by NASA Johnson from Flickr. Image licence found here. No changes were made to this image.

In article Instagram image from account davidattenborough. No changes were made.

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