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2022 Year in Review: Nature and Climate

To recap 2022, is taking a look back at some of the most interesting stories we’ve covered this year.
Today we’re looking at some of the year’s big stories related to nature and the climate.

Massive Eruption of Undersea Volcano in Tonga

JMA Himawari-8 True Color RGB image created using Geo2Grid shows the volcanic cloud following an explosive eruption of Hunga Tonga on 15 January 2022.
On Saturday, an underwater volcano erupted in the South Pacific Ocean near Tonga. The damage in Tonga isn’t fully known yet. But the massive explosion raised concerns of tsunamis all through the Pacific and as far away as the west coast of the United States.

Huge Lightning Flashes Set New Records

Image from a satellite of the lightning megaflash that set the record for longest distance lightning flash.
On Tuesday, the United Nations’ weather agency reported on the longest lightning flash ever recorded. The lightning bolt shot through the sky over the US in 2020, crossing three states. It covered a total distance of 477 miles (768 kilometers).

Drought Causes Flooded Spanish Village to Appear Again

View of the flooded village of Aceredo.
In 1992, five villages in Galicia, Spain were flooded on purpose when a river was dammed up to create a large reservoir. Now, because of a drought, low levels of water have revealed much of one of those villages, rising out of the water like a ghost village.

US West’s ‘Megadrought’ is Worst in 1,200 Years

Map of drought conditions in the United States, October 12, 2021 from the US Drought Monitor. Western United States is covered with shades of red and occasional patches of orange and yellow.
The Western United States has been struggling with a serious drought for years. A new study shows that this “megadrought” is the most serious dry period to hit the area in 1,200 years. The report makes it clear that climate change has made the drought worse.

Nations Agree on Treaty to Fight Plastic Pollution

Close-up photo of plastic trash.
Last Wednesday, people representing 175 countries reached a historic agreement to tackle the problems of plastic. The deal will lead to a treaty that could help clean up plastic pollution around the world, and even put limits on new plastic in the future.

Dust From Sahara Turns Spain’s Skies Orange

Air from the Sahara laden with dust creates a strong 'calima' in Almeria on March 14, 2022. A row of palm trees poke into an eerily orange sky as cars drive with their headlights on in midday.
Over the last two days, much of Spain has been coated with dust, and the skies have turned bright orange. A huge cloud of dust from the Sahara Desert is causing the strange weather. The dust cloud is expected to spread to other parts of Europe.

UN Report on Climate Crisis: Now or Never

Offshore windmills.
In early April, a United Nations climate group released a 3,000 page report on climate change. The report details actions that must be taken quickly to avoid the worst effects of the crisis. As one of the report’s authors put it, “It’s now or never.”

Over 20% of Reptile Species at Risk of Going Extinct

CRITICALLY ENDANGERED A male Jamaican Iguana (Cyclura collei) in his home in the Hellshire Hills on the southern coast of Jamaica. This male has recent scarring on his cheek which demonstrates fighting over females and territory, something that was not likely 20 years ago when less than 50 iguanas were estimated to be living in the wild.
A recent scientific report says that more than one-fifth of the world’s reptiles are at risk of dying out. The main threat to reptiles is the loss of their natural homes, as humans take over more and more natural areas.

Monsoon Rains Cause Deadly Flooding in Pakistan

Map showing statistics and rainfall amounts across Pakistan. On the map, most of Pakistan is colored in dark blue or purple, indicating heavy rains across the country.
Flooding across Pakistan caused by monsoon rains has killed over 1,000 people and forced more than 33 million people from their homes. The government has declared a national emergency and asked for help from other countries.

Biden Signs Major Climate Action Bill

President Biden signs the Inflation Reduction Act into law on August 16, 2022. He is surrounded by prominent figures instrumental in the passage of the bill, including Senators Chuck Schumer and Joe Manchin.
Last Tuesday, President Joe Biden signed into law the biggest step the US has ever taken to fight climate change. The law provides hundreds of billions of dollars to help the US cut pollution and create more clean energy.



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