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11 Biggest Science Stories of 2011

Disastrous Weather & Climate Change

dry lake bed

The Southwest may be stuck with more scenes like this dry lake bed. (Image credit: NOAA.)

Drought, wildfire, tornadoes, flooding, a blizzard and a hurricane — weather-related disasters wreaked havoc on the United States in 2011, setting a new record for costly weather-related disasters. In December, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) announced the country had experienced 12 $1 billion-plus of them. And we can expect more, said NOAA head Jane Lubchenco, citing predictions of more severe weather brought by climate change. Americans seem to be getting the message; an annual survey found we are starting to see climate change as an immediate problem, thanks to this year's devastating weather.