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Western Heat Predicted to Move East

The extreme heat that is helping to fan severe western wildfires from California to Alaska is predicted to move eastward over the coming days. This shift is expected to set off high temperatures in the 90s and 100s from the Gulf Coast all the way to the Great Lakes and into the Northeast. Heat Index values, meanwhile, are predicted to spike into the 100s and 110s from the Mississippi Valley north and eastward.

(Much warmer than normal temperatures spread from west to east across the U.S.)

These much warmer than normal temperatures and potentially dangerous heat index values occur in a context of larger national and global warming. May of 2018 was the hottest on record according to NOAA. The U.S. presently sits between two warmer to much warmer than normal ocean zones. And overall global temperatures have been rising since the 1900s, with a more rapid up-ramp occurring since the late 1990s.

For the Central and Eastern U.S., warmer than normal oceans are also spiking atmospheric moisture levels through increased rates of evaporation. These higher moisture levels will be contributing to predicted heat indexes where large regions are expected to experience temperatures that feel like the 100s or 110s (see image below).

(Heat index values are predicted to rise to between 40 and 45 C for large parts of the Central and Eastern U.S. The 44 C predicted heat index for parts of Western New York on July 1 corresponds to a 111 F ‘feels like’ condition for this Northeastern region. Such high heat index values present a heightened risk of heat injury due to long term exposure. Image source: Earth Nullschool.)

Combined high heat and humidity increase the risk of heat injury due to exposure. And rising heat indexes and wet bulb temperatures are just one of the many potentially harmful aspects of human caused climate change.

From Inverse:

In the future, parts of the world will become so hot and humid that healthy adults sitting in the shade will die within a matter of hours. It’s hard to imagine, and yet that’s where Earth’s climate is headed, perhaps sooner than expected.

But while many recent studies have rightly focused on physical human limits under high wet bulb temperature risks for parts of South Asia and the Middle East, the Central to Eastern U.S. is also a region of concern. Climate risks to this region of the U.S. are due to both high predicted temperatures and high moisture levels from increasingly warm Gulf and Atlantic Ocean surfaces. The result is that heat capable of resulting in rapid heat injury or even loss of life, with wet bulb temperatures above 35 C, is possible by mid-to-late Century under high fossil fuel burning scenarios.

(At 10 C global warming, large regions of the world are regularly predicted to experience temperatures above 35 C Wet Bulb readings — or a level at which the human body is not naturally capable of cooling itself. Of course, such dangerous Wet Bulb readings are possible under still lower levels of global warming. Note that the Central to Eastern U.S. is one of the indicated hot spots from this recent paper.)

Though the Eastern U.S. is not yet facing extreme wet bulb readings of this kind, temperatures and humidity levels are presently on the rise. So the predicted heat wave is still expected to pack a punch. And perhaps a bit more than we’re used to.

We’re looking at a predicted extended period of significant above normal temperatures and high humidity over the coming days. So the public should stay tuned to local media for heat advisories issued by the National Weather Service (see heat safety tips here) and do what they can to keep cool by drinking water frequently and by spending less time exposed to blazing temperatures and sweltering humidity.

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28 Comments

  1. It is as hot as it’s ever been in Albuquerque, NM today. Parts of the city are reading as high as 109F. The highest record was set on this date in 1994 with 107F. The 109F may not be official but it’s as hot as it’s ever been. Global warming is all to real here in the southwest. Extreme fire danger over vast regions of tender dray forests due to little snow pack last winter. There are areas that may run short of water. The Ol’Hippy

    Liked by 2 people

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    • rhymeswithgoalie

       /  June 28, 2018

      My personal metric for heat waves is the *overnight low*. When the temperature goes for several days without dropping below the 80s, the A/C (if you have it!) runs all night. If there is no A/C, then old, fat, or heavily pregnant people suffer sweaty, sleepless nights.

      Liked by 1 person

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      • bostonblorp

         /  June 28, 2018

        “Hot nights” are a problem unto themselves. Without AC sleep is difficult, the body doesn’t recover well. With AC, well, you’re burning power all night long.

        Liked by 2 people

        Reply
  2. Gbalanverse

     /  June 28, 2018

    Hi, Robert. Love your writing. I’d like it a lot if you could focus more on bringing Passive House design standards to world to support deep decarbonization as this standard is superior to LEED. While I love your coverage on TESLA ramp etc, I think you can put less focus on transportation and more on buildings and industry.

    In solidarity,

    Greg Brooks-English

    (Sent from my iPhone…)

    >

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    • I see EVs as a linch-pin issue. x4 efficient as ICE and enables rapid solar and wind deployment beyond 30-50 percent grid penetration. Clearly more efficient buildings are also important. But for many regions transport is the main greenhouse gas emitter. If I had more time, I’d cover it all. Please feel free to share your clean/efficient building related info here. It is certainly welcome.

      Liked by 1 person

      Reply
  3. Mblanc

     /  June 28, 2018

    Dunno if this has been posted here, sorry if it has.

    https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2018/jun/26/rising-seas-florida-climate-change-elizabeth-rush

    Can’t help posting this snippet from the article.

    ‘But Hal (University of Miami, Geology dept chair) says it doesn’t matter whether you live six feet above sea level or sixty-five, because he, like James Hansen, believes that all of these predictions are, to put it mildly, very, very low. “The rate of sea level rise is currently doubling every seven years, and if it were to continue in this manner, Ponzi scheme style, we would have 205 feet of sea level rise by 2095,” he says. “And while I don’t think we are going to get that much water by the end of the century, I do think we have to take seriously the possibility that we could have something like 15 feet by then.”

    Where did he get a doubling rate of 7 years from? I can’t recall hearing that before. I’m only just getting used to 4.5mm/yr instead of 3.3mm/yr, but I guess I shouldn’t get too hung up on the new number, because another one will probably be along soon.

    Liked by 2 people

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    • Mblanc

       /  June 28, 2018

      Some more on the same subject from the Guardian, with more on ‘Dr Doom’.

      https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2018/jun/28/rising-elizabeth-rush-extract-towns-flooding

      Another snippet…

      Hal pushes some of his scattered papers aside so I can set up my recording device. I have my question, just one, prepared: “What single event woke you up to the reality of sea level rise?”

      “You know, 20 years ago I never thought I would end up seeing the rise because everything, all the projections at that time, really didn’t ramp up until well into the 21st century. But then I started going out to Cape Sable.” Cape Sable is the southernmost part of the mainland; it reaches into the Florida Bay like a swollen hook. “Out there the beaches were disappearing, mangroves were moving in, tiny channels turned into huge rivers in a matter of years. Even the roseate spoonbills started abandoning their nesting grounds. I had never, in my life of studying the geology of the coast of Florida, seen anything like it. That is when I knew in my gut that the early predictions were wrong and that sea level rise was unfolding a lot faster than any of us ever imagined.”

      “What comes next?” I ask.

      “We have to start relocating the things we value,” he says. “Like the Smithsonian Institution, which is sited on top of an old marsh. We have to make seed banks, a global archive for the future, and we have to move our power plants, in order to maintain a functioning society. We have to start lining the trash dumps that line our shores, we have to start preparing for inundation. Remember, the last time carbon dioxide levels were the same as they are today, the ocean was one hundred feet higher.”

      Liked by 3 people

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    • Tough to support a 7 year doubling time at this point. However it could hit that soon. If we compare 1990s to now, the doubling time is more like 20 years. This slope is likely to incline, but the assertion that ‘it’s seven years’ is very tough to support.

      It is true that present CO2e levels correspond with sea levels in the range of 120 feet if you compare with past climates. Present temperatures correspond with seas in the range of 10-20 feet. The challenge is to reduce emissions, hit negative emissions, so as to limit warming. We are clearly going to lock in a certain amount of harmful sea level rise. But if we act rapidly we can prevent much of the overhang. And if we don’t act rapidly enough we will melt all the ice and lock in more than 200 feet.

      End sea level rise will still occur over multiple centuries even in the worst case scenarios. But a portion of the future is still ours to make. 1.5 C warming roughly corresponds to 10-20 feet long term. 2 C roughly corresponds to 15-40 feet long term.

      The challenge as it always was — is how can we stop burning fossil fuels as soon as possible? We have answers to that — clean energy, efficiency, abstinence. My opinion is that rapid clean energy deployment combined with efficiency is the most likely to succeed and produce the largest effect. Efforts to keep fossil fuels in the ground and divest from fossil fuel companies is also likely to have both social and practical impact. Meanwhile, government policies that support clean energy and efficiency programs are absolutely necessary.

      Of course, we are now also to the point where government needs to be prepared to respond to climate change disasters and help those afflicted. Present political trends run against all these social, political and moral needs. But it doesn’t obviate the fact that they remain.

      If you want to act individually, you can vote, support clean energy and environmental candidates, cut your fossil fuel use, purchase renewable energy systems (if you have the means), communicate with others about the problem, and join/donate to politically active societies like the Sierra Club or 350.org. We need to see this as a generational issue that can only be won through concerted action over time. In other words, we need to take the long view.

      Liked by 2 people

      Reply
  4. kassy

     /  June 28, 2018

    With rising temperatures air conditioners will become ever more popular but of course they use a lot of energy.

    Here are 2 new types of cooling:

    Inventors on opposite sides of the globe are scrambling for less-damaging ways to keep us cool. Professor Ernest Chua of the National University of Singapore is one of them. Conventional technology is more than a century old, he noted, “yet we have not made breakthroughs in evolving air conditioning that is more environmentally friendly.” Chua’s solution is an air-cooling device that runs exclusively on water. Hot air is sucked into a machine in which a special membrane removes moisture. Then the ..

    The idea is to put special panels on the roof of a building and run water pipes beneath them, said co-founder Aaswath Raman. The water cools and is then circulated throughout a building. The SkyCool team estimates that integrating their technology into an existing AC system could cut electricity use by 20 percent, while a building that incorporates it from the ground up could save up to 70 percent.“What excites us about our technology is that it represents a unique and completely different way of handling the cooling problem,” said Raman. “Our hope is that this can eventually become a component of cooling systems everywhere.”

    https://economictimes.indiatimes.com/small-biz/startups/newsbuzz/this-is-how-outer-space-could-revolutionise-air-conditioning/articleshow/64773881.cms

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    • This is what happens when you end up with:

      Republican House
      Republican Senate
      Republican President

      Rising right wing media
      Increasingly extreme republican base
      Voter suppression
      Endemic corruption within the republican party
      Immunity to facts due to right wing ideological extremism

      Liked by 4 people

      Reply
  5. Ronald

     /  June 28, 2018

    What I find particularly alarming about the wet bulb map (I realize it is a kind of worst case scenario) is that, in accordance with other studies, it shows extreme warming of the eastern, southern and even central Amazon as a result of the northward shifting of the ITCZ. This could result in catastrophic drought and dieback.

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    Reply
    • The 10 C warming roughly correlates to 950 ppm CO2e over long time scales (centuries to millenia). Present CO2e is 493 ppm. 950 is a near BAU path — just slightly below BAU.

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      Reply
  6. “…so hot and humid that healthy adults sitting in the shade will die within a matter of hours. It’s hard to imagine”. Not so hard to imagine for anyone who has spent time working outside in a summer even slightly hotter than normal in Texas.

    Liked by 3 people

    Reply
    • While in Florida, my National Guard unit regularly trained in Ocala National Forest. Some days the temperature got up to 100 with relatively high humidity. We’d get heat casualties pretty often. Mostly it was just mild heat exhaustion or moderate heat stroke. But there were hospitalization cases every year. On one occasion, we had a guy fall out with heat stroke. The people in his squad tried to help him by dunking him in a lake. The rapid change in temp put him into shock and he didn’t make it.

      They’d put out warnings if wet bulb temperatures hit above a certain level and make you sit, drink cool water and take a break from physical exertion. Of course, we were never in 35 C wet bulb environments. But even 29 C is pretty rough.

      One of the ways we could cope is by taking camel backs and filling the bladders half way, then freezing them before training/deployments. It’d give you about a day’s worth of ice cold water and a cold sack to carry around that would sit against the core of your back and cool you off. Some guys would bring chemical cold compresses. One time in JRTC at Ft Polk in Louisiana, we broke into the medic’s IV bags when our recon squad was low on water in an extreme heat situation during training.

      Most people don’t experience that kind of exertion in extreme conditions. And in the U.S. we are lucky to have access to controlled climate environments in hot regions. But a not inconsiderable number of people work outdoors, even in a modern, industrial society. So if temps go up, so do risks of heat injury.

      Liked by 3 people

      Reply
  7. bostonblorp

     /  June 28, 2018

    I’ll bet the lethal wet bulb temp when factoring in even modest exertion is substantially lower. The body is a heat engine and most of the world’s population needs to use it to survive.

    Liked by 4 people

    Reply
    • rhymeswithgoalie

       /  June 28, 2018

      Crikey! And being on the coast, it probably wasn’t a dry heat, either.

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      Reply
    • Mike S

       /  June 28, 2018

      In the U.S., the only place to record a low of 100 degrees or higher is Death Valley. In spite of its very rural location, hot air gets trapped in the deep valley overnight. The heat island effect keeps lows elevated in places like Phoenix and Las Vegas, but neither place has *yet* to have a triple-digit low. Probably won’t be able to state that several years from now.

      Liked by 1 person

      Reply
    • Was thinking about this as I read through the thread. Thought about mentioning it. But you ninja’d. Kudos for the catch.

      Like

      Reply
  8. wharf rat

     /  June 29, 2018

    Global Warming in South Asia: 800 Million at Risk

    Climate change could sharply diminish living conditions for up to 800 million people in South Asia, a region that is already home to some of the world’s poorest and hungriest people, if nothing is done to reduce global greenhouse gas emissions, the World Bank warned Thursday in an ominous new study.

    ==
    Will global warming change the summer rainfall patterns over Eastern China?
    June 28, 2018, Chinese Academy of Sciences

    Read more at: https://phys.org/news/2018-06-global-summer-rainfall-patterns-eastern.html#jCp

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  9. Dave McGinnis

     /  July 4, 2018

    I once read they used to make ice in ancient Egypt by evaporation of shallow ponds or tanks, wet-bulb near zero.

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