‘Extraordinary is No Longer Extraordinary’: US Scientists on a Year of Climate Disasters

The American west faced an unprecedented year of climate disasters in 2021.

A cold wave in February triggered temperatures 50F below average in Texas, killing at least 150 across the state and leaving millions without power and water. Heatwaves over the summer broke temperature records across different western states, killing hundreds in the northwestern US and Canada. Fires seared through large swathes of the west, razing the northern California town of Greenville and searing through groves of giant sequoia trees.

This summer, the Guardian interviewed a panel of climate scientists about their experiences living through the crises that climate research had long foretold. As the year ends, they share their reflections on what’s happened – and what gives them hope, even as climate catastrophe looms.

Water is Disappearing in the West – and Not Just During the Summer

Skiers and snowboarders pray for snow so they can shred the slopes. Climatologists and hydrologists have an entirely different and more critical reason to cross their fingers for the “white gold.”

The West’s historic drought has many impacts, including water shortages, more severe wildfire seasons and unprecedented heat waves, to name a few. Intense droughts are a result of many factors, one of which scientists have recently began to analyze with more scrutiny: snow drought.