2011: Year of Natural Disasters (Infographic)
For the U.S. insurance industry, 2011 was the costliest year on record due devastating earthquakes and storms.
Credit: Ross Toro, LiveScience Contributor

The United States was hit with a mega tab in 2011 as 12 $1-billion-plus disasters hit us, and researchers say that was just a sampling of the extreme weather to come. The culprit? Many say climate change is a contributor.

Climate change is expected to increase certain types of extreme weather, leading to more disasters, according to a report being assembled by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).

"The report that was released by the IPCC on extreme events suggests that what we are seeing this year is not just an anomalous year, but a harbinger of things to come for at least a subset of the extreme events we are tallying," said Jane Lubchenco, NOAA's administrator, during a press conference held in December 2011 at the annual American Geophysical Union meeting in San Francisco.

In fact, 2011 broke the record for costly, weather-related disasters, including drought, wildfire, tornados, flooding, a blizzard and a hurricane, according to NOAA. The previous record, for nine $1-billion-or-more weather-related disasters was set in 2008. The global economic losses from natural disasters in 2011 was also record-breaking, costing $380 billion; that was two-thirds higher than in 2005, the previous record year, which had losses of $220 billion.

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