Feel­ing the heat

The Aurora (Labrador City) - - Editorial -

Search the word “tem­per­a­ture” in Google News, and you’re over­whelmed by sto­ries about the heat. Over the last week, for ex­am­ple, Lis­bon broke an all-time heat record, hit­ting 44 de­grees C on Satur­day. Ber­lin was ex­pect­ing 39 de­grees, its hottest tem­per­a­ture ever. Parts of Spain and Por­tu­gal were ex­pected to hit the high­est Euro­pean tem­per­a­tures ever, reach­ing as high as 47 de­grees C on Mon­day.

San Diego, Calif., recorded the high­est sur­face ocean tem­per­a­ture in the 102 years that records have been kept.

In Death Val­ley, Calif., the monthly av­er­age tem­per­a­ture was 42.3 C, the high­est heat for a month ever recorded on Earth, beat­ing last year’s tem­per­a­tures, which were, un­til now, them­selves the high­est ever. The high­est day’s tem­per­a­ture? 52.8 C. Mean­while, Fresno, Calif., had the warm­est July on record, in­clud­ing 26 con­sec­u­tive days where the tem­per­a­ture hit or ex­ceeded 100 de­grees F, or 37.8 C.

In Ja­pan, tem­per­a­tures were set to reach 41 de­grees, just shy of the all-time heat record of 41.1 de­grees, a record that was set just over two weeks ago. The Korean penin­sula was also on bake, with South Korea hit­ting an all-time tem­per­a­ture high of 40.7 C, eas­ily 10 de­grees above av­er­age tem­per­a­tures and part of a heat wave that’s stretched on since mid-July. North Korea, mean­while, termed the heat wave “an un­prece­dented nat­u­ral dis­as­ter.”

In Nor­way, it was more than 32 de­grees C north of the Arc­tic Cir­cle a week ago, with much of North­ern Europe swel­ter­ing un­der tem­per­a­tures eight to 13 de­grees C above av­er­age.

Aus­tralia, Europe and the west­ern U.S. are all suf­fer­ing un­der drought or near-drought con­di­tions. Aus­tralia’s drought this year is the sec­ond­worst in that coun­try’s recorded his­tory.

It’s pretty much a global phe­nom­e­non; record high tem­per­a­tures have also been recorded in — here you go — Tai­wan, Mon­treal, Al­ge­ria, Oman, Bur­bank, Shan­non, Tbil­isi and Belfast, to name a few. Bri­tain has just ended the third-long­est heat­wave in its his­tory.

In this re­gion, there have also been un­usual weather events: late snow in New­found­land and berry-dam­ag­ing frost in Nova Sco­tia, dry weather in eastern Prince Ed­ward Is­land that has threat­ened potato crops, and for pretty much all of the re­gion, con­stant higher-than usual tem­per­a­tures with high hu­mid­ity.

This is sup­posed to be a slightly cooler year, based on cooler tem­per­a­tures that usu­ally come with La Niña years. In­stead, we’re edg­ing close to the hottest year on record, 2016.

It’s worth point­ing out that this is the ex­act weather pic­ture — higher tem­per­a­tures; slow­mov­ing weather sys­tems pinned in place by block­ing high pres­sure sys­tems; a weaker, more er­ratic jet stream; fre­quent ex­treme weather events in­clud­ing vi­o­lent storms and heavy rain­fall — that cli­mate sci­en­tists have been telling us to ex­pect. With that, of course, comes for­est fires, crop re­duc­tions and even heat re­lated deaths.

We’re just wait­ing, re­ally, for sci­en­tists im­politic enough to say, “We told you so.”

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