At the expense of being tedious, from a climatological perspective, 2011 was a real killer—both figuratively and literally. If not quite so hot as 2010, which tied 1998 for the warmest in recorded history, it’s likely to end up among the top ten, all occurring over the past fifteen years according to the World Meteorological Organization.
Extreme weather plagued much of the world. Drought in East Africa has caused mass starvation; catastrophic floods came to Thailand, southern Africa and Australia. Winter temperatures across Russia averaged 4 degrees Celsius (roughly 9 degrees Fahrenheit) above average. Arctic sea ice was the second lowest on record.