Extreme Weather

By Marisa Larson, National Geographic staff

Global climate change is creating extreme and unpredictable weather around the world. From November 2006 to October 2007 there were heat waves in what are ordinarily colder northern climes and snow in southern temperate regions. There were also record droughts and floods, as well as extreme storms, such as hurricanes, in unusual places. Climate modelers had predicted freakish weather in response to global warming but could not forecast exactly where and when such anomalies would hit, says Jay Lawrimore, chief of climate monitoring at the National Climatic Data Center.

Last year England had its soggiest year since 1766, and monsoon rains doubled in India. Heat waves killed people in Eastern Europe and the U.S., and the Arabian Sea had its first Category 4 hurricane ever. Climate researchers expect more bizarre weather but say that it will move around, making it difficult to predict what—and where—it will hit.


O’Hanlon, Larry. “Wild Weather.” National Geographic (February 2008).

“Hazards/Climate Extremes.” NOAA Satellite and Information Service.

Climate change, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

The PEW Center on Global Climate Change.

Climate change, United Nations Environment Program

Were the Niagra Falls actually frozen solid in 1911, as indicated by photos now being circulated by email?
It's good to not believe everything you see without asking questions. Niagara Falls does freeze from time to time, though it might not freeze solid. Did it do so in 1911? You may want to read an article on Snopes.com that discusses photographs and dates when the falls froze. As the site points out, Niagra Falls isn't just one falls, but an impressive combination of them. http://www.snopes.com/photos/natural/niagarafalls.asp You might also want to check the Niagara Falls Alive website, http://www.niagarafallslive.com/Facts_about_Niagara_Falls.htm, which has gallons of interesting facts about the falls and explains the geologic history of how the falls formed. Canada's government website for the falls is also a good source of factual information. It addresses the issue of freezing at: http://www.niagaraparks.com/nfgg/falls_stopped.php. —David Wooddell, GeoPedia Editor