A record heat wave in the western United States is expected to intensify this weekend, as climate change and an atmospheric “dome of heat” combine to achieve the warmest temperature the region has ever experienced.
Over the next few days, the heat wave will move into the northwest Pacific, where forecasts show Seattle and Vancouver reaching highs of 41C and 39C, respectively.
Seattle-based meteorologist Cliff Mass described the forecasts as “amazing” and “insane” for a region known for cool, rainy weather.
“Frankly, I’m a little shocked looking at the forecasts of the gross forecast model,” he wrote Mass, professor of atmospheric sciences at the University of Washington.
Meteorologists have warned that the heat wave can become more deadly when heading north towards areas where most homes do not have air conditioning and people are not accustomed to extreme heat.
Hundreds of temperatures memories they were also installed in the southwestern United States in Utah, Arizona, Colorado, New Mexico and California last week.
Climate scientists have said that these patterns could become the new norm, as the planet continues to warm due to global warming. A June world record of 53.2C was set register earlier this month in Death Valley, California.
“There is no doubt that heat waves have become more frequent and intense due to artificial climate change,” said Friederike Otto, associate director of the Institute for Environmental Change at Oxford University.
“The most important thing is to be aware of how dangerous the heat is,” she added, identifying seniors as particularly at risk.
According to Otto, unusual temperatures, combined with a historic drought, have significantly increased fire risks. Parts of California and Oregon are already preparing for a summer of burns more deadly than last year.
An area of high pressure in the atmosphere above the western United States, often called the “heat dome,” keeps the heat wave blocked in place.
“This is a climate system that can be very persistent, it can last for several days,” said Dim Coumou, a researcher at the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research. “It brings clear skies, very high temperatures.”[s]. “
While climate change has already warmed the planet about 1.2C since pre-industrial times, scientists like Coumou believe it has also changed atmospheric patterns.
Their research shows that a gradual weakening of the jet stream during the summer makes these high-pressure systems more persistent, resulting in longer heat waves. The jet stream, a wind band that moves in high atmospheres, greatly influences climatic patterns in the northern hemisphere.
“Normally you have weather systems coming and going every few days,” Coumou said. “The thing with these heat cups is that they can last a lot longer. This heat can really accumulate and you can get these heat waves for a long time.”
Other regions of the world also experienced record temperatures this month, including in the Russian Arctic.
The area near Verkhoyansk, which is known to be one of the coldest places in the world, has recorded a new peak of more than 40C on June 21, according to Copernicus satellite data, the EU’s earth observation program.
This surpassed the previous record of 38C recorded near Verkhoyansk last year.