Sunday, July 24, 2016

Get Used to These Extreme Summer Heat Waves

A man cools off by walking through a fountain in the Center City neighborhood in Philadelphia. (Credit: John Taggart/Bloomberg via Getty Images) Click to Enlarge.
Sweltering heat waves like the ones plaguing the Midwest and Northeast in recent days will become typical summer weather if climate change continues its course, scientists warn. 

Temperatures have been in the mid-to-high 90s across the northeast since Thursday, plaguing the New York tri-state area, Philadelphia, Boston, Washington, D.C. and beyond.  They follow a heat wave that struck the Midwest late last week, slamming Chicago with temperatures in the high 90s that felt more like 105 degrees. 

And this comes just a month after triple-digit temperatures scorched the Southwest, breaking temperature records across Arizona and killing four hikers.  At this rate, some experts are already saying there’s a 99 percent chance that 2016 will beat out 2015 as the hottest year on record.

Unless we slow down our fossil fuel consumption, we should get used to summers like these, climate scientists say. 

“If we continue with business-as-usual burning of fossil fuels, and warm the planet by [3 degrees Celsius] by the end of this century, then what we today call ‘extreme heat’ we will instead call ‘mid-summer,’” Michael Mann, a leading climate scientist and professor of meteorology at Penn State University, told The Huffington Post. 

Kevin Trenberth, a distinguished senior scientist at the National Center for Atmospheric Research, agreed that severe heat could be summer’s new normal.  He pointed to findings in the 2014 National Climate assessment that project that by the end of the 21st century, what used to be “once-in-20-year extreme heat days” in the U.S. will occur every two to three years. 

“In other words, what now seems like an extremely hot day will become commonplace,” the report said.

Read more at Get Used to These Extreme Summer Heat Waves

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