Natural Disasters

2022 too short, too far: A year of disasters

Down To Earth recaps the primary environment, health and developmental news from 2022  

By DTE Staff
Published: Tuesday 03 January 2023
Assam saw droughts and floods within a span of a week. Photo: iStock__

The year 2022 saw several disasters globally, thanks to climate impact. Assam saw droughts and floods within a span of a week and a volcano in Hawaii,  United States erupted after an almost four decade slumber. 

Loss and damage was also part of the discussions in the 27th Conference of Parties (COP27) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, which ended with an announcement on setting up a fund for it. Here’s a few stories on natural disasters that happened last year. 

In October 2022, India experienced extreme weather events on 30 of the 31 days, according to India’s Atlas on Weather Disasters released by Down To Earth-Centre for Science and Environment Data Centre.

Read more: India lost 6 people daily to extreme weather events in October

Mauna Loa, the world’s largest active volcano situated in the US state of Hawaii, erupted for the first time November 28, 09:30 UTC (3 pm IST) after waking from its almost 38-year-long slumber.

Read more: Mauna Loa wakes up after almost 40 years; eruption’s duration uncertain, say scientists

India suffered huge economic losses from floods and storms in 2021 as climate change has made these events more frequent. The country was only second to China in the Asian continent in this regard, according to a report.

Read more: Loss and damage from floods, storms cost India $7.6 bn in 2021: Report

Northern Indian Ocean cyclones may have gained notoriety for causing considerable devastations, but a new research has noted a decline in the Bay of Bengal.

Read more: Fewer cyclones in Bay of Bengal but frequency increased in Arabian Sea: Report

Cyclone Sitrang rapidly doubled its pace and made an early landfall in Bangladesh, which was termed as ‘unusual’ by meteorologists. Westerly winds might have played a role in the quickening of the cyclone system, which ultimately led to less destruction in West Bengal, India.

Read more: Cyclone Sitrang: ‘Unusual’ quickening of pace, say weatherpeople

An international framework for assessing losses and damages in the aftermath of a disaster is now being used to evaluate the financial and social cost of local disasters in eight states in India. The framework helps get recovery and reconstruction efforts right following a disaster.

Read moreHow to assess disasters: 8 Indian states adopt global standards

Lightning has emerged as a major threat to villages in Jharkhand, with no resources or infrastructure to protect them from the natural phenomenon. Farmers and areas with tribal communities remain especially vulnerable as they work in open fields surrounded by tall trees in hilly areas.

Read more: Jharkhand farmers, tribal areas remain at mercy of lightning

Assam faced devastating floods in 2022 but large parts of it was stricken with drought. It took just a week for the situation to change from drought to deluge, a classic case of how climate change is exacerbating extreme weather events.

Read more: It took just a week for drought-affected Assam to be deluged: DTE Analysis

Assam will need 943 years of flood protection measures to prevent a crisis like the one it is witnessing if its pace of preparedness and climate adaptation doesn’t increase, according to a new study.

Read more: It’ll take Assam 943 years to protect itself from floods at current pace of adaptation measures

The world will face around 560 disasters every year by 2030, warned the United Nations.

Read more: World will face at least 560 climate disasters every year by 2030, warns UN

A recent report has stated that the probability of wildfire events similar to Australia’s 2019-2020 Black Summer will increase by 31-57 per cent in the future. If India’s forest fire season this year is any indication, we are already there.

Read more: India’s forest fires are getting bigger and hotter, like the rest of the world

West Bengal’s South 24 Parganas district, within which the larger share of the Sundarbans is located, is impacted by cyclones the most frequently among Indian districts, found a recent study.

Read more: Sundarbans is cyclone capital of India: IMD report

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