Torrential downpours in Texas. Historic heat in China. Rising hunger in Africa. Europe’s worst drought in 500 years. Glacial melting in Antarctica.
Each of these events bear the fingerprints of climate change, providing yet more evidence that this crisis isn’t some far-off threat — it’s here right now.
Here’s a look at some of the climate disasters unfolding around the world right now.
On Sunday, a deluge hit Dallas, taking the life of a 60-year-old woman, leaving cars floating in the streets, and prompting dozens of high-water rescues. Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport reported 9.19 inches of rain in 24 hours from Sunday to Monday afternoon — the most rain the city has seen in a single day since 1932.
Texas Governor Greg Abbott signed a disaster declaration on Tuesday, freeing up state resources for those impacted by the storm and creating the possibility for further federal aid. At least 100 homes have been damaged by the flooding, he said, and that number is expected to climb.
Meanwhile, unprecedented extreme temperatures have beat down on a swath of central, eastern, and southwestern China for the past 73 days. It’s the longest and most widespread heat wave the world has ever seen.
Historically low water levels have led to a shortage of hydropower, forcing some cities in the southwest part of the country to dim subway lights and billboards to conserve power. Receding waters also have revealed relics long hidden beneath the river, including three 600-year-old Buddhist statues and an ancient bridge.
The heat wave is “almost certainly attributable” to climate change, said Andrew Pershing, director of climate science at Climate Central, a nonprofit that tracks climate data. Earlier this summer, his organization released the Climate Shift Index, which calculates how much more likely daytime high and overnight low temperatures are to occur because of climate change. Preliminary data on China shows a strong link.
While some of China suffers due to the lack of water, another region of the country has faced the opposite problem.
Some rivers ran so high that they changed course, making the floods even worse. Thousands have been forced to evacuate.
The floods haven’t yet been scientifically attributed to climate change.
“Flooding is harder to attribute in a formal sense, mostly because rainfall statistics are so messy,” said Pershing. “However, we expect that a warmer atmosphere will hold more water vapor, making big rain events more likely.”
Meanwhile, Europe is experiencing its worst drought in at least 500 years, according to a preliminary analysis.
There too, wildfires are sparking, hydropower generation is low, and crop yields are under threat.
As in China, the drought has revealed relics that have long been hidden beneath rivers. Along the Danube — which has fallen to one of its lowest levels in 100 years — around two dozen explosive-covered German warships that sunk during World War II were left exposed.
The drought is fueled by this summer’s heat. In July, the European Union saw a heat wave that was made 10 times more likely by climate change, according to the World Weather Attribution.
“Once you warm up the air, it sucks more water out of the ground and out of the plants, and so the chances of also having drought happening increase as well,” said Jennifer Francis, a senior scientist at the Massachusetts-based Woodwell Climate Research Center.
Another troubling effect of that heat: Glaciers in the Alps are experiencing the most severe levels of melting ever recorded. Some glaciers have melted a stunning one to two months earlier than in a normal year.
The Horn of Africa, one of the most drought-prone regions in the world, has seen four consecutive years of dry conditions, making it nearly impossible to grow food or raise livestock.
Up to 22 million people in Ethiopia, Kenya, and Somalia are facing severe hunger, and more than 7 million people have left their homes in search of food and water, according to the World Food Program.
The drought is having especially devastating effects on children, according to the United Nations. Fifteen million children in the Horn of Africa have left school due to the drought, and more than 3 million more are at risk of dropping out.
Heavy rains also have triggered devastating flash floods across much of Pakistan this summer. This week alone, they’ve killed 126 people, the country’s National Disaster Management Authority said Wednesday.
Since mid-June, 903 people have been killed in flash floods in the nation, and about 50,000 people have been left homeless.
Tens of thousands of houses have been swept away by flood waters, forcing many to live in tents miles away from their home villages and towns, the Associated Press reported.
Schools have closed. Bridges and businesses have been destroyed. And as a result of all the damage, the nation’s economic crisis has gotten even worse.
Closer to home, the Colorado River Basin, which provides water to Colorado and six other states, is in year 23 of a historic drought. The conditions are “clearly connected to climate change,” said Francis.
For the second year in a row, the federal government said this month that Arizona, Nevada, and Mexico will have to cut their water usage dramatically.
Heat, again, exacerbates drought. Elsewhere in the US, the Climate Shift Index shows that much of the Pacific Northwest is experiencing temperatures that are at least twice as likely due to climate change, said Pershing.
Here in New England, drought conditions also are persisting. Lawns and farms have been scorched, rivers are running dry, and in Massachusetts, 800 brush fires have been reported this year, including 35 in the past week across 188 acres of land.
“That’s a lot for us in the middle of August,” David Celino, chief fire warden for the state’s Department of Conservation and Recreation, told the Globe this week.
Each of these events was the result of complex weather patterns. Are they also connected to climate change?
“100 percent,” said Francis.
This is what the planet looks like after 1.1 degrees of warming on average. Without urgent action to kick fossil fuels and curb greenhouse gas pollution, the impacts will get even worse.