15 incredible environmental images that captured the world in 2017

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California wildfires December 2017REUTERS/Gene BlevinsFirefighters battle flames the Thomas Fire in Santa Paula, California, December 4, 2017.

From an usually active hurricane season in the Gulf of Mexico to record-breaking wildfires in California, the planet endured a lot in 2017.

Take a look back at some of the biggest environmental changes, events, and catastrophes from the year through these 15 impactful images.

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California's Oroville dam — the tallest in the United States — collapsed in February.

California's Oroville dam — the tallest in the United States — collapsed in February.

From 2011 to 2016, California underwent the worst drought the state had seen in 1,200 years. But after an unprecedented amount of rain in late 2016 and early 2017, the Oroville area's water levels began to rise.

In early February, the Oroville dam reached water-level capacity, which caused a giant hole to open in the middle of the spillway.

After the dam collapsed, authorities ordered the evacuation of nearly 200,000 residents in several northern California towns.

Early 2017 temperatures ranked as the hottest in 122 years for the contiguous US.

Early 2017 temperatures ranked as the hottest in 122 years for the contiguous US.

From April 2016 to March 2017, the US went through an unusually warm period that brought record-high temperatures to the Lower 48 states (everywhere but Alaska and Hawaii), according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

As The Washington Post noted, over that time period, the country's average temperature was 3.02 degrees Fahrenheit higher than the 20th-century average.

Rising concentrations of greenhouse gases caused the temperature increase. A study published in December suggested that by 2100, the planet may get 15% hotter than scientists previously thought.

A groundbreaking study warned that continuing to burn fossil fuels at the current rate could bring atmospheric carbon dioxide to its highest concentration in 50 million years.

A groundbreaking study warned that continuing to burn fossil fuels at the current rate could bring atmospheric carbon dioxide to its highest concentration in 50 million years.

According to the study published in April, if the world continues to emit greenhouse gases at its current pace, the global climate could reach a warming state in 2100 that scientists don't think the world has seen in the past 420 million years.

This fall, the Trump administration took steps towards repealing the Clean Power Plan, which was established in 2015 to reduce the US' carbon-dioxide emissions.

Another alarming study found that the rate of global sea-level rise may have nearly tripled since the 1990s.

Another alarming study found that the rate of global sea-level rise may have nearly tripled since the 1990s.

Throughout 2017, multiple studies suggested that global sea-level rise is becoming even more dire than previous estimates.

In April, one such study suggested that from 1990 to 2012, the rate of sea-level rise tripled from 1.1 millimeters to 3.1 millimeters per year. Another paper published in December predicted that the amount of rise would be double the highest estimates by 2100.

Some scientists point to increased ice loss from Greenland and parts of Antarctica, made worse by rising temperatures, as one root cause. Rising sea levels put ocean-side communities at risk of flooding.

Two controversial oil pipelines — the Dakota Access Pipeline and the Keystone XL — were approved.

Two controversial oil pipelines — the Dakota Access Pipeline and the Keystone XL — were approved.

Protests against the DAPL and Keystone XL pipelines, which began in 2014, continued in 2017.

The Trump administration officially approved both pipelines this year. The DAPL started delivering oil in May, and the Keystone pipeline extension's construction was greenlit in November.

Opponents to the pipelines argued that each one will lead to more CO2 being emitted, and harm local wildlife, farmland, and water sources.

In early November, the existing Keystone pipeline spilled over 200,000 gallons of oil.

In June, Trump announced that the US will withdraw from the Paris agreement on climate change.

In June, Trump announced that the US will withdraw from the Paris agreement on climate change.

Trump's decision to pull the US out of the landmark Paris agreement would make the country the only one in the world not signed on to the accord.

The agreement, created in 2015, set a global goal to keep the planet from warming by more than 2 degrees Celsius above preindustrial levels. After that threshold, scientists say, the planet will see irreversible consequences including unpredictable superstorms, dramatic heat waves, increased wildfires, and severe drought.

A Delaware-size iceberg broke off from Antarctica's Larsen C ice shelf in July.

A Delaware-size iceberg broke off from Antarctica's Larsen C ice shelf in July.

A giant crack in Antarctica's Larsen C caused a 1.1-trillion-ton iceberg — the third-largest in recorded history — to break off and float away.

Scientists say that the ice chunk, called A-68, will likely lie in the ocean for years until it ultimately melts into sea water.

A-68 won't noticeably raise sea levels, but the rest of the shelf is now less stable than it was before the rift. If its accompanying glacial ice collapses, sea levels could rise by up to four inches.

A total solar eclipse captured America's attention in August.

A total solar eclipse captured America's attention in August.

In August, those within a 70-mile-wide band of the US were treated to a total solar eclipse (when the moon crosses between the Earth and the sun and blocks out the sun's light).

The full effect was visible from Oregon to South Carolina. Everyone else in the US saw some degree of a partial eclipse.

The total eclipse was the first seen in the US since 1979.

The Gulf of Mexico experienced a record-breaking hurricane season.

The Gulf of Mexico experienced a record-breaking hurricane season.

The 2017 Atlantic hurricane season was "extremely active," according to the definition used by the National Hurricane Center.

In August, Hurricane Harvey brought unprecedented rain levels to Houston area, and Irma plowed through the Virgin Islands, St. Martin, and other parts of the Caribbean before slamming into Florida. In September, Maria ripped roofs off homes and wiped out power in Dominica and Puerto Rico.

All three storms devastated communities, leaving thousands without housing and basic necessities like water and food.

This summer and fall, monsoons left some cities in India, Nepal, Bangladesh, and Pakistan underwater.

This summer and fall, monsoons left some cities in India, Nepal, Bangladesh, and Pakistan underwater.

Communities in India, Nepal, Bangladesh, and Pakistan suffered an intense monsoon season that began in late August. Flooding destroyed buildings, breached dams, and killed more than 1,400 people across South Asia.

According to Oxfam, two-thirds of Bangladesh went underwater, and some areas saw the worst flooding since 1988.

Meanwhile, more than 500,000 Rohingya refugees have fled to Bangladesh due to violence in Myanmar's Rakhine state, leading to a humanitarian crisis in the region.

A powerful earthquake jolted central Mexico in September.

A powerful earthquake jolted central Mexico in September.

A 7.1-magnitude earthquake killed more than 200 people in Mexico on September 19.

More than 40 buildings collapsed, including a school, and gas mains ruptured. Fires also spread after a tremor hit in the state of Puebla, located near the country's capital, Mexico City.

Affected regions are still recovering from the disaster.

California endured the deadliest series of wildfires in the state's history throughout September, October, and December.

California endured the deadliest series of wildfires in the state's history throughout September, October, and December.

In 2017, more than 9,050 wildfires raged across California and burned more than 1.2 million acres of land, according to the state's Department of Forestry and Fire Protection.

In October, 250 wildfires ripped through Northern California, causing more than $9.4 billion in insured property damages. At least 100 people were injured and 44 people were killed in the fires that month.

Strong Santa Ana winds ignited another series of wildfires in Southern California in December. More than 212,000 people evacuated, and the largest fires decimated over 1,000 structures. The Thomas wildfire in Ventura and Santa Barbara Counties is now considered the largest in California's history.

An earthquake near the Iran-Iraq border killed more than 500 people in November.

An earthquake near the Iran-Iraq border killed more than 500 people in November.

On November 12, a 7.3-magnitude earthquake struck near the Iraq-Iran border, killing at least 530 people and injuring around 7,460 others.

It was the world's deadliest earthquake in 2017, and was felt as far away as Turkey and Pakistan.

The epicenter was near Ezgeleh, Iran (about 135 miles northeast of Baghdad) and hit the Iranian city of Pol-e Zahab particularly hard. Rubble destroyed buildings, cars, and other structures.

In November, the Mount Agung volcano erupted in Bali, Indonesia.

In November, the Mount Agung volcano erupted in Bali, Indonesia.

On the Indonesian island of Bali, Mount Agung erupted four times over the course of two days in late November. The eruptions created plumes as high as 3.7 miles and sent ash 13,000 feet across the island.

As many as 100,000 locals in 22 villages were living in the expanded danger zone, Reuters reported. Flight cancellations also affected an estimated 59,000 passengers on 445 flights.

In December, the Trump administration announced it will shrink the Bears Ears National Monument in Utah by 85%.

In December, the Trump administration announced it will shrink the Bears Ears National Monument in Utah by 85%.

Decreasing the size of Bears Ears National Monument by 85% would make the move the largest reduction of a national monument in American history.

The Trump administration also announced plans to cut Utah's Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument in half.

Environmentalists and some native nations say Trump's move will destroy artifacts of national heritage in these areas and threaten some 100,000 sites of archaeological importance. The decision will likely spur a lengthy legal battle.

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