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Dangerous heat, fire, and active hurricane season

Summer forecast: dangerous heat, fire and active hurricane season

Researchers at Columbia University say climate change may pose risks for a tough summer Lamont-Dougherty Earth Observatory.

The temperature associated with the heat wave sweeping through the Pacific Northwest of the United States has reached unprecedented highs. Over the weekend, three-digit readings were hot in parts of Oregon and Washington, where the average temperature in June is usually in the 70-degree range.In Portland, Oregon, a county health officer Say so“This is a life-threatening heat. People need to find a cool place to kill time in the next few days.”

Lamont Postdoctoral Research Scientist Jane Baldwin Study how climate change affects the frequency and severity of heat waves. “No matter how you cut it, the heat wave will get worse,” she said. “They are getting longer, more frequent, and stronger-what I mean by’stronger’ means that the peak temperature is getting higher and higher. These trends have been studied extensively and can be clearly related to global warming. The resulting temperature rise is related.”

At the same time, the western United States is experiencing its worst drought since 2002 and is preparing for a devastating wildfire season.Up to now, the official has to National Interagency Fire Center There were more than 30,000 fires, a 10-year high in June.

“I think the situation will be very bad. It’s already bad. We have seen the wildfire season start early in most parts of the west, including northern California,” said the climate scientist at Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory. Benjamin Cook“In Arizona and California, many reservoirs used for firefighting helicopters are unavailable. I think this will be a very challenging year.”

Smoke from the Flats fire in Pinyon Pines, California, June 13, 2021. photo: Lisa Cox/USFS

Cook said that wildfires are getting bigger and the situation is getting worse, this is a trend Mainly driven by climate change. Part of the reason why the climate change factor is so strong is that the United States has a history of firefighting for decades. The forest and fire management policy is that all fires are bad. This gives way to efforts to extinguish fires no matter how small. But if not Small natural fires burn down the bushes, and the forest will be overwhelmed by a large excess of fuel.

“If the weather is hot and dry, you have a lot of potential fuel to burn. This is where we are,” Cook said.

At the same time, in the Atlantic…

The extreme conditions of this summer are not limited to the West Coast. Last week, the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration announced that in the Atlantic Ocean, “the hurricane season above normal is most likely to occur.”

Susanna Camargue, Mary Tharp Research Professor at Lamont University, studies extreme weather and climate change. She agrees with NOAA’s assessment that conditions are ripe for a higher-than-normal hurricane season in the Atlantic Basin, but predicts that it will not be as active as last year’s record of 30 named storms. Last year, the temperature in the Atlantic Ocean was above average, and the El Niño-Southern Oscillation (ENSO) ocean and climate pattern were in a cold phase, or La Niña, which is conducive to the active Atlantic hurricane season. This year, ENSO is in a neutral phase, but the Atlantic waters are still warm.

Satellite images of tropical depressions

Satellite image of the Atlantic tropical depression on June 28, 2021. source: Institute of Meteorological Satellite Cooperation

Camargo said that climate scientists are well-known that global warming is making hurricanes more impactful for several reasons. Climate change is raising sea levels. In addition, climate change is also related to the increase in extreme rainfall events. Therefore, storm surge-related floods and hurricane-related rainfall will lead to more widespread flooding.

“Because in a warm climate, you can hold more water vapor in the atmosphere, which leads to all types of extreme rainfall,” Camargo said.Hurricane Harvey Devastating A category 4 hurricane that landed in Texas and Louisiana in August 2017, causing catastrophic floods and more than 100 deaths, is a powerful example. Climate scientists believe that Harvey’s rainfall has increased by 6% to 15% due to climate change.

However, according to theories and models, global warming does not necessarily cause more hurricanes, but it is “putting the dice” on more intense hurricanes. Although the attribution science surrounding the impact of climate on hurricane frequency is developing, Camargo asserts the importance of understanding the risk of hurricanes.

“If you live in coastal areas, you should always be worried. One is enough. It doesn’t matter whether this season is super active or peaceful. One category 3 or category 5 for your place of residence-that’s enough ,” Camargo said. In fact, Hurricane Andrew in 1992 (the Category 5 Atlantic hurricane that hit the Bahamas, Florida, and Louisiana is very powerful and destructive) occurred in a calm season with only seven hurricanes.

“If you live in a hurricane-prone area,” Camargo said, “you should always be prepared.”

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