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The record-setting heat left at least 45 dead in Oregon’s Multnomah County. There was also a huge spike in the number of deaths reported in the Canadian province of British Columbia during the heat wave.
- Last week, record high temperatures were felt around the world as a never-before-seen heat wave struck parts of the Northern Hemisphere.
- Temperatures well above 113℉ (45℃) were recorded as far north as Siberia, Russia, Canada and the United States’ Pacific Northwest.
- The record-setting heat left at least 45 dead in Oregon’s Multnomah County. There was also a huge spike in the number of deaths reported in the Canadian province of British Columbia during the heat wave.
- Experts believe that record high temperatures like these will become more common due to the long-term effects of climate change on the Earth’s weather patterns.
- While a few hot days may strike some people as just a bit unpleasant, research shows that these high temperatures could trigger natural disasters such as severe droughts and forest fires. It’s clear how climate change can affect forests – and the damage such disasters could cause to the surrounding environment and global ecosystem could be irreversible.
What caused these high temperatures?
- Heat waves. According to research by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), heat waves form when high pressure is concentrated above a specific region and then remains in that region for several days to several weeks.
- And so, because the heat has remained there over a period of time, it just increases in intensity.
- The formation of heat waves is more common during the summer months, as the closer proximity of the sun and slower weather patterns allow for the high air pressure to build up much more quickly.
- The high temperatures produced by heat waves also rapidly dry out the air, preventing clouds or rain from forming, which would dampen the effects of the heat.
- Heat waves are the most common type of severe weather, causing more deaths annually than droughts, floods, lightning, hurricanes, or tornadoes.
How is this a direct effect of climate change?
- Climate change is expected to increase the likelihood of extreme weather events, including heat waves.
- According to research from the Center for Climate and Energy Solutions (C2ES), hotter days are likely to become more common and heat waves more frequent.
- The research states that this is due to a deteriorating ozone layer and an increase in greenhouse gas emissions polluting the atmosphere, providing less protection from the heat as a result.
- In fact, the research explains that “if greenhouse gas emissions are not significantly curtailed, the coldest and warmest daily temperatures are expected to increase by at least 5 degrees F in most areas by midcentury rising to 10 degrees F by late century.”
Why is this so dangerous to the Earth’s ecosystem?
- Heat waves are a major side effect of climate change and have been shown to have damaging, long-term effects on the environments they impact as well as the global ecosystem.
- Heat waves have triggered major droughts, killing vegetation and crops and causing major blows to the plant and animal life of the surrounding environment, as well as to the farmers attempting to harvest their land.
- Due to the high temperatures and widespread droughts, wildfires may erupt, causing widespread destruction and the loss of plant and animal life, like what occurred in the wake of the 2020 forest fires in California and the 2020 Australian bush fire season.
- The high temperatures have also led to a thawing permafrost, which could prove to be detrimental to Arctic and Subarctic wildlife, such as this past month’s heat wave in Siberia.
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