2023 in photos: Extreme climate

  • World
  • Tuesday, 05 Dec 2023

Ice covers communication towers as massive amounts of snow trap residents of mountain towns in San Bernadino County, Crestline, California, U.S. March 2, 2023. REUTERS/David Swanson

(Reuters) - Extreme weather featured in headlines frequently in 2023. Drought dried up lakes, record heat sparked wildfires, rains turned streets into rivers, and deadly storms wiped out entire towns.

In early 2023, California experienced an unusually wet, snowy winter, drenching the state and causing mudslides that left some homes precariously balanced on cliffsides, while in the Southern Hemisphere scorching temperatures fanned wildfires in Chile.

As summer rolled around in the Northern Hemisphere, large parts of Europe and the United States sweltered under intense heat waves that contributed to more wildfires. Canada's severest ever wildfire season sent smoke billowing out to blanket swaths of the U.S. in haze, while Greece suffered its most difficult climatic year in recorded history, as blazes were followed in September by the destruction of Storm Daniel.

In September, October and November storms also caused flooding in Mexico and western Europe, while flashfloods killed thousands in Libya. On the other hand, record droughts saw lake and river water levels fall, including in the Amazon rainforest.

Scientists say these kinds of extreme weather events will become more common and more severe as the Earth warms.

This year was particularly tough as human-induced climate change combined with the emergence of the natural El Nino climate pattern that warms the waters of the Pacific Ocean.

In November, scientists said that 2023 is expected to wind up as the warmest year on record and in December climate diplomats met in Dubai at COP28 to cut emissions and put a brake on warming.

Here is a selection of Reuters photographs that show the extremes of a changing climate and its effect on humans, animals and the landscape.

(Photography by Reuters photographers; Writing by Rosalba O'Brien; Editing by Lisa Shumaker)

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