Between 2009 and 2011 the economic cost of disasters increased from $50 billion to $371 billion due to the 2011 Great East Japanese Earthquake. The largest number of people killed occurred in the period 2009-2010, mainly due to earthquakes, including the 2010 Haiti earthquake. The largest number of people affected in the last twelve years occurred between 2001 and 2002, mainly due to droughts, including droughts in China and India.
This map shows drought severity, measured as the product of the average length of a drought occurrence and how dry it was the drought. This visualization is based on data collected for the period between 1901 and 2008.
The red areas in the map show the regions most severely affected by droughts. The northern region of the African continent stands out as the largest area being affected by severe droughts. Southwestern Africa (Namibia and Botswana) has also been severely affected by droughts in the same period.
Some areas in the Andean region in South America (Ecuador, Peru, Bolivia, Chile and Argentina) have also suffered the effects of severe droughts during the past century.
Parts of Australia and Russia have also been affected by extreme drought conditions.
Temperatures for the U.S. contiguous states in 2012 were 1 degree Fahrenheit warmer than the previous record temperatures of 1998. Based on preliminary data the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOOA) created the map above, where it can be clearly seen that across the nation warmer temperatures were registered. Nineteen states from Massachusetts to Utah, experienced record warmer temperatures.
2012 was also a year of record low levels of precipitation, below average. Drier than average conditions affected the central parts of the United States, with negative consequences for agriculture. The winter season 2011-2012 was affected by higher than normal warm temperatures as well.
Temperatures on the Earth’s surface and moisture levels in the atmosphere have been on the rise. These two factors might be at the root of the drastic change in weather patterns causing severe droughts, heat waves, heavy rains and other extreme weather phenomena.