In photos: 13 extreme weather events that shocked the world in 2021


In 2021 we witnessed further examples of the impact of climate change. Scientists noticed that animals were shapeshifting in response to rising temperatures, while a decade-long study revealed the Amazon rainforest now emits more carbon than it absorbs.

We’ve also seen more and more extreme meteorological events occurring around the globe.

There were wildfires in America, typhoons in Asia, and super storms in our own backyard. These incredible images document just a handful of the weather phenomena that displaced humans and ruined lives in the last 12 months. They make for sombre viewing.

Spanish snowstorm – January

One person with a pair of skis in the centre of Madrid

One person skis through the Cibeles Square, Madrid, Spain, on the 9 January 2021. The worst snow in the city for 50 years followed the arrival of storm Filomena. Photo by Jesus Hellin/Europa Press/Getty Images

People walk on the snow along Calle de Segovia Spain

People walk on the snow along Calle de Segovia during heavy snowfall on 9 January 2021 in Madrid, Spain. Storm Filomena brought unusually cold weather and heavy snowfalls, and caused cancelled services and transport disruption. Photo by Pablo Blazquez Dominguez/Getty Images

Chinese sandstorm – March

People wear protective masks as they commute sandstorm

People wear protective masks as they commute during a sandstorm on 15 March 2021 in Beijing, China. The Chinese capital and the northern parts of the country were hit with a sandstorm carried over by strong winds from Mongolia. Photo by Kevin Frayer/Getty Images

The strongest sandstorm in a decade

The strongest sandstorm in a decade hits Jiuquan City, northwest China’s Gansu Province on 15 March 2021. The storm caused a huge spike in air pollution, and flights in and out of the area were cancelled. Photo by Costfoto/Barcroft Media/Getty Images

Oregon heatwave – June

Cooling centre full of people heatwave 2021

Portland residents fill a cooling centre with a capacity of about 300 people at the Oregon Convention Center 27 June 2021 in Portland, Oregon, USA. Record breaking temperatures lingered over the Northwest during a historic heatwave at the end of June. Photo by Nathan Howard/Getty Images

Man cooling off in spring heatwave Oregon

Pablo Miranda cools off in the Salmon Springs Fountain on 27 June 2021 in Portland, Oregon, USA. The heatwave was estimated to have killed at least 1,400 people. Photo by Nathan Howard/Getty Images

California Drought – June

California reservoir is nearly empty

The San Gabriel reservoir located in the San Gabriel Mountains, USA, was nearly empty due to severe drought conditions in this image taken 6 June 2021. The drought in California affected rain and snowfall in the local mountains. The reservoir provides water to several communities in Los Angeles County. Photo by Ted Soqui/Sipa USA/Alamy

California drought 2021 in pictures:

Nepal Monsoon rains and flooding – July

A man rides a makeshift raft in the middle of flooded road

A man rides a makeshift raft in the middle of an inundated road section in Banepa, Nepal on 9 July 2021. The unseasonal rains brought flooding to many parts of central Asia. Photo by Rojan Shrestha/NurPhoto/Getty Images

Siberian forest fires – July

This aerial picture taken on July 27, 2021, shows a burned forest at Gorny Ulus area west of Yakutsk, in the republic of Sakha, Siberia. - It was a rare day for this summer when the sky in the world's coldest city was not shrouded in a sepia orange toxic smog produced by the third straight year of increasingly massive blazes. In Yakutia, known as Sakha in its Turkic language, many believe that nature is a living spirit that will maintain harmony with humanity. (Photo by Dimitar DILKOFF / AFP) (Photo by DIMITAR DILKOFF/AFP via Getty Images)

This aerial picture taken on 27 July 2021, shows a burned forest at Gorny Ulus area west of Yakutsk, in the republic of Sakha, Siberia, Russia. Photo by Dimitar Dilkoff/AFP/Getty Images

North European Flooding – July

Flooding and damaged houses aerial view

Aerial view shows an area completely destroyed by the floods in the Blessem district of Erftstadt, western Germany, on 16 July 2021. The death toll from devastating floods in Europe exceeded 242, most in western Germany where emergency responders were frantically searching for missing people. Photo by Sebastien Bozon/AFP/Getty Images

Greek wildfires – August

volunteers gather in an open field to fight greek wildfire

Local youths and volunteers gather in an open field and wait to support firefighters during a wildfire next to the village of Kamatriades, near Istiaia, northern Evia Island, Greece on 9 August 2021. Firefighters tried to prevent fires from reaching key communities and a thick forest that could fuel an inferno that one official said has destroyed hundreds of homes in seven days on the island. Photo by Angelos Tzortzinis/AFP/Getty Images

An elderly lady leaves her home threatened by wildfire in the village of Gouves, on the island of Evia, Greece, on Sunday, Aug. 8, 2021. Photographer: Konstantinos Tsakalidis/Bloomberg via Getty Images

An elderly lady leaves her home threatened by wildfire in the village of Gouves, on the island of Evia, Greece, on 8 August. Photo by Konstantinos Tsakalidis/Bloomberg/Getty Images

Haitian tropical storm – August

Woman in beach Haiti As storm approaches

A woman wades through the water, as Tropical Depression Grace approaches, after a recent 7.2 magnitude quake, in Les Cayes, Haiti 16 August 2021. Storm Grace passed through the area heaping further misery after an earthquake had destroyed many buildings and left over 700 dead. Photo by Ricardo Arduengo/Reuters/Alamy

California wildfires – August to September

Flames consume trees during the Dixie Fire California

Flames consume trees during the Dixie Fire in Genesee, California, USA, on 21 August 2021. The Dixie Fire grew overnight by nearly 10,000 acres, to 714,219 acres and remained 35 per cent contained Saturday afternoon. Photo by Eric Thayer/Bloomberg/Getty Images

aerial picture burned home among burnt trees

An aerial picture taken on 24 September 2021 shows a burned home among burnt trees in Greenville, California, USA. The Dixie fire burned almost 1 million acres and wasn’t completely extinguished until late October. Photo by Josh Edelson/AFP/Getty Images

Take a look at more of our image galleries:

Dust Storm In Brazil – September

massive dust storm is seen engulfing brazilian neighbourhood

A massive dust storm is seen engulfing the neighbourhood of Nossa Senhora do Carmo in the city of Frutal, Brazil, on 26 September 2021. The dust storm was seen in several cities of the states of Sao Paulo and Minas Gerais, in southeast region of Brazil, followed by heavy rains across the area. Photo by Andrey Luz/AFP/Getty Images

Storm Arwen United Kingdom – November

Storm Arwen batters north east coast waves

Storm Arwen batters the North East coast causes big waves to crash against the Heugh breakwater in Hartlepool, UK on 27 November 2021. Photo by MI News/NurPhoto/Shutterstock

2H92F9Y Aerial view of many trees blown over by Storm Arwen (26/27 Nov 2021) in John Muir Country Park in Dunbar, East Lothian, Scotland, UK

Aerial view of many trees blown over by Storm Arwen 27 November 2021 in John Muir Country Park in Dunbar, East Lothian, Scotland, UK. Photo by Iain Masterton/Alamy

US midwest tornado – December

A man walks through the wrecked remains of houses

A man walks through the wrecked remains of houses in a neighbourhood near Russellville Road after a tornado swept through Friday night in Bowling Green, Kentucky, USA, on 12 December 2021. Photo by Silas Walker/Lexington Herald-Leader/Tribune News Service/Getty Images

TOPSHOT - People embrace as tornado damage is seen after extreme weather hit the region December 12, 2021, in Mayfield, Kentucky. - Dozens of devastating tornadoes roared through five US states overnight, leaving more than 80 people dead Saturday in what President Joe Biden said was

People embrace as tornado damage is seen after extreme weather hit Mayfield, Kentucky, USA on 12 December 2021. Dozens of devastating tornadoes roared through five US states overnight, leaving more than 80 people dead in what President Joe Biden said was “one of the largest” storm outbreaks in history. Photo by Brendan Smialowski/AFP/Getty Images

Philippines super Typhoon Rai – December

Fallen electric pylons block a road after typhoon

Fallen electric pylons block a road while a sign asking for food (left) is displayed along a road in Surigao City, Surigao del Norte province, Philippines, on 19 December 2021, days after super Typhoon Rai devastated the city. Photo by Ferdinand Cabrera/AFP/Getty Images

Photo by JILSON TIU/GREENPEACE HANDOUT/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock (12652222a) A handout photo made available by Greenpeace shows residents and areas affected by Typhoon Rai in Surigao City, southern Philippines, 19 December 2021 (issued 20 December 2021). Philippine National Police data show that the death toll from Typhoon Rai rose to 208, making it one of the deadliest storms to hit in recent years. More than 300,000 people were evacuated from their homes and beachfront resorts. Aftermath of Typhoon Rai in the Philippines, Surigao City - 20 Dec 2021

A handout photo made available by Greenpeace shows residents and areas affected by Typhoon Rai in Surigao City, southern Philippines, 19 December 2021. Philippine National Police data show that the death toll from Typhoon Rai rose to 208, making it one of the deadliest storms to hit in recent years. More than 300,000 people were evacuated from their homes and beachfront resorts. Photo by Jilson Tiu/Greenpeace/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock

Residents stand in a flooded bus stop

Residents stand in a flooded area in the coastal town of Guiuan, Eastern Samar province, Philippines, on 16 December 2021, after Super Typhoon Rai passed. Photo by Alren Beronio/AFP/Getty Images

Struggling with an umbrella in a typhoon

A man holding umbrella walks in the strong wind and rain brought by typhoon Rai on 20 December 2021 in Qionghai, Hainan Province of China. Photo by Meng Zhongde/VCG/Getty Images



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