Hot Century Ahead: Study Finds Onslaught of Heat Waves Now Inevitable
Report comes as North Asia temperature spike kills dozens in the midst of a blistering summer
- Sarah Lazare, staff writer
A new study dishes out some very bad news about the global warming crisis.
It is too late to stop a "several folds" increase of deadly heat waves caused by greenhouse gases—and the floods, fires, and storms they bring.
The report comes as a record heat wave hits North Asia, killing dozens and sickening far more, flooding hospitals with heatstroke victims amid power shortages that are cutting off air conditioning in some areas.Heat wave aerial view (Photo: severe-wx)
Published Thursday in the Environmental Research Letters, the study tracks trends in heat increases, finding that "3-sigma" heat wave events, in which climates are warmed to 3 times their normal temperature for over 3 weeks in a row, have been on the rise since the 1950s and today cover approximately 5 percent of the earth's land surface.
No amount of emissions mitigation can stop this frequency from doubling by the year 2020 and quadrupling by 2040, and by the latter year, extreme heat events will cover 20 percent of the globe. Furthermore, 5-sigma events, which do not occur presently, are expected to ravage 3 percent of the world's surface by 2040.
Study scientists claim that humanity's best hope is to stabilize heatwaves in the second half of the 21st century through an aggressive curb on greenhouse gases.
World continues to broil, NOAA's 2012 report on warming finds
Seth Borenstein The Associated Press
Aug. 6, 2013 at 7:09 PM ET
Dan Pisut / NOAA Environmental Visualization Lab
Surface temperatures in 2012 compared with the temperature average from 1981 to 2010.
WASHINGTON -- A new massive federal study says the world in 2012 sweltered with continued signs of climate change. Rising sea levels, snow melt, heat buildup in the oceans, and melting Arctic sea ice and Greenland ice sheets, all broke or nearly broke records, but temperatures only sneaked into the top 10.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration on Tuesday issued a peer-reviewed 260-page report, which agency chief Kathryn Sullivan calls its annual "checking on the pulse of the planet." The report, written by 384 scientists around the world, compiles data already released, but it puts them in context of what's been happening to Earth over decades.
"It's critically important to compile a big picture," National Climatic Data Center director Tom Karl says. "The signs that we see are of a warming world."
Sullivan says what is noticeable "are remarkable changes in key climate indicators," mentioning dramatic spikes in ocean heat content, a record melt of Arctic sea ice in the summer, and whopping temporary melts of ice in most of Greenland last year. The data also shows a record-high sea level.
The most noticeable and startling changes seen were in the Arctic, says report co-editor Deke Arndt, climate monitoring chief at the data center. Breaking records in the Arctic is so common that it is becoming the new normal, says study co-author Jackie Richter-Menge of the U. S. Army Corps of Engineers' Cold Regions Research and Engineering Laboratory in Hanover, N.H.
Karl says when looked at together, all the indicators show a climate that is changing over the decades. Individually, however, the story isn't as simple.
Last ten years has shown global cooling phenomena. Florida had one of it's coolest years. Drove through S. Carolina yesterday afternoon and it was in the 60's.
Weather guys remind me of the race baiters Al and Jesse, they look for the zebras and not the horses.