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The Midwest and Northeast regions of the United States are experiencing a record-breaking heatwave this year, influenced in part by alterations in traditional jetstream activity as a result of climate change.

Climate Change

Northeast, Midwest Swelter In Epic September Heatwave

The Midwest and Northeast regions of the United States are experiencing a record-breaking heatwave this year, influenced in part by alterations in traditional jetstream activity as a result of climate change.

If you are a fan of musicals, you might want to break out a video of Marilyn Monroe singing Irving Berlin’s “We’re Having A Heat Wave” from the Broadway smash hit There’s No Business Like Show Business. It’s the perfect tune for people in the Midwest and Northeast this year, as they swelter through a record-setting high-temperature season unlike anything those areas have seen in a long, long time.

Heat Wave Map 9-17


“There has never been a heat wave of this duration and magnitude this late in the season in Chicago,” the National Weather Service reported Tuesday evening, calling it “the only occurrence on record of 7+ consecutive 90°[F] days entirely within September” on record. Record-high temperatures were set this week in Burlington, Buffalo, Minneapolis, Green Bay, Ottawa, and northern Maine.

“It’s perhaps obvious that global warming means more frequent and intense heat waves,” climatologist Michael Mann wrote in an email to ThinkProgress. “But what is less obvious is how climate change may be impacting the behavior of the jet stream in way that causes more persistent weather extremes, giving us even more extreme and longer duration heat waves than we would otherwise expect. Many of the worst heat waves in recent history, including the 2003 European heat wave and the 2011 Texas/Oklahoma heat wave, were associated with this effect,” Mann wrote.

The alterations in jetstream activity also prolonged the amount of time Hurricane Harvey spent over Houston, Texas. The extended exposure to torrential rain led directly to the catastrophic flooding in the area.

The problem is not restricted to the United States. World Weather Attribution, an affiliate of Climate Central, has released a study of this year’s record-high temperatures in Europe during a heatwave nicknamed Lucifer. Its researchers found, “climate change increased the chances of seeing a summer as hot as 2017 by at least a factor of 10 and a heat wave like Lucifer by at least a factor of four since 1900″ (emphasis in original).

A study published by Nature Scientific Reports this week warns, “Summer in some regions of the world will become one long heat wave even if global average temperatures rise only 2°C above pre-industrial levels.” That is the target that the Paris climate accords are designed to address. The study suggests that each 1 degree Celsius rise in global average temperature will result in 15 to 28 more heat wave days each year with each heat wave lasting 3 to 18 days longer.

Were average global temperatures to increase by 3 degrees Celsius (the world is at least half way to that point already), an additional 80 days of heat wave conditions could occur. In that case, the heat waves could last 50 days longer than today with peak temperatures up to 10 degrees Fahrenheit higher than experienced today.

Somewhere, James Inhofe’s famous snowball is melting — rapidly.

Source: Think Progress

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Written By

Steve writes about the interface between technology and sustainability from his home in Florida or anywhere else the Singularity may lead him. You can follow him on Twitter but not on any social media platforms run by evil overlords like Facebook.


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