Not only was 2019 Australia’s hottest and driest year ever, but we twice cracked our hottest average day, saw an uptick in bushfire-generated dry-lightning storms and had, temporarily, the world’s worst worst air quality and hottest temperatures. That’s not to mention country’s worst bushfires.
But while Australia is seeing unprecedented weather extremes (the full list of which is too long to include), we’re not the only ones.
Here’s how the rest of the world has fared while we’ve been battling the summer from hell.
Russia responds to December heat with fake snow
A heatwave in Moscow, including a record high December temperature of 5.4 degrees, saw the government literally truck in — and guard — fake snow to decorate Red Square.
The heat also saw hibernation disrupted at Moscow zoo, with officials forced to put five jerboas into refrigerated areas. Flowers reportedly began to bloom early.
Thus far, Vladmir Putin has responded to some of global heating’s more pressing consequences for Russia with denialism, conspiracy theories, roadblocks for coordinated UN action and plans to use the “advantages” of climate change.
India suffers record cold snap, severe air quality
On Monday December 31, Delhi recorded its coldest December day in 119 years. Air pollution also jumped, breaching the severe category during a period that saw the city launch its first ever air-purifying “smog tower”, while poor visibility delayed dozens of trains and hundreds of flights.
The cold wave, which saw temperatures plunge to a minimum of 2 degrees in the capital and other regions, is especially brutal as few buildings are equipped for cold winters.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi straddles the line between accepting climate science and buddying up to close friend Gautam Adani.
Indonesia sees flash floods and landslides
Heavy rains in and around Jakarta have created some of the deadliest flash floods and landslides in a decade, displacing more than 62,000 people, spreading diseases, disrupting transport and electrical grids and leading to the deaths of more than 60 people.
Drought drains Victoria Falls
Many African nations were decimated by drought last year. Severe dry wet seasons pushed two million towards starvation in Somalia, while the 2019 El Niño and hyperinflation has left 60% of people in Zimbabwe food insecure. Meanwhile, an expanding Sahara contributed to one of the world’s first “climate change wars” in Sudan.
This came to a head in December, when Reuters released footage of the iconic, 100 metre-long Victoria Falls drying to little more than a trickle. The end point for southern Africa’s Zambezi river has drawn millions of tourists to Zimbabwe and Zambia for decades, and while the falls tend to slow in dry seasons, water flow has hit its lowest rate since 1995.
A record percentage of Antarctica melts on Christmas Eve
According to the National Centers for Environmental Prediction’s global forecast system, a record 15% of Antarctica’s ice surface melted on December 24.
As climatologist Xavier Fettweis explained to Newsweek, that data comes from a meteorological and climatic research model — not “in situ observation” — and experts will need to wait two or three melting seasons to clarify contributing factors. However, Fettweis specified that Antarctica has been significantly warmer than average this season season, and that, “as for most of the anomalies observed on these last months over the Earth, the signal coming from global warming can not be ignored here”.
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