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Global warming and climate change may be contributing to record-breaking heat waves

Global warming and climate change may be contributing to record-breaking heat waves

Global warming and climate change may be contributing to record-breaking heat waves
August 03
17:06 2018

Temperatures over 100 degrees continue to be a possibility in North Texas and all around the state for the rest of the summer.

And if such days do come, they will join the other almost two dozen that have reigned over North Texas thus far. This includes the week-long heat wave that occurred last month ago with temperatures above 105 degrees.

“When those temperatures get up over 106 degrees, that is unusual,” meteorology and climatology professor Kent McGregor said. “You have to go back to the horrible summer of 2011 to find those kinds of temperatures. Putting it differently, it’s been about six or seven years now since we’ve had four or five days in a row of the kind of temperatures we had [last month].”

The summer of 2011 continues to be of one the hottest Texas summers since 1980 with 71 consecutive days of temperatures over 100 degrees, according to the National Weather Service.

The question of why these high-temperature heat waves seem to come back every so often has yet to be fully answered. However, some studies do indicate factors such as global warming might play a role in these events, Texas State University professor Richard Dixon said.

“The climate models predict, in an overall warming world, heat waves will become more frequent and more long-lasting,” Dixon said. “So, if you think about the climate model as an experiment that poses a question, then we’re seeing the answer that was posed from that climate model.”

Global warming is not the only scientific topic that has been introduced to explain increased temperatures and heat waves over the last few decades. Climate change, which has been a topic of discussion in both the scientific and political world, is another occurrence that has been invited into the conversation.

Scientists believe climate change to be an event that has been occurring over the last century due to hazardous toxins and activity produced by humans. These hazardous elements are believed to have been the cause of numerous changes to the world’s original composition.

While scientists continue to study to gather evidence of climate change, the recent heat wave will have to remain off their list of evidence for quite a while, McGregor said.

“I don’t believe that what we’ve seen is necessarily evidence of climate change,” McGregor said, “However, there is absolutely no doubt in my mind that global warming is real and climate change is occurring. But you can’t take every unusual weather event that happens and say that’s proof of climate change because it’s not necessarily.”

Dixon agrees that the recent heat waves cannot be directly related to climate change, though he does believe there may be a potential correlation between the two.

“I suspect that based on the fact that this heat wave is showing such a large special footprint, not only here in the U.S. but in many other parts of the northern hemisphere, attribution studies will show that a certain percentage of that excess heat is due to climate change,” Dixon said.

Charles Jackson, a research scientist at the University of Texas at Austin, studies climate change and believes its effects are high level and will take time much time to fix.

“The climate system is not something you change overnight,” Jackson said. “For our children and our children’s children, the decisions that we make today affect them. Some of the best things we can do is be aware of how things are connected and try to leave a better world for our kids.”

In the meantime, Jackson says we must invest in factors that will alleviate the biological and financial stress of heat waves we have endured.

“Otherwise, we learn how to put up with the heat,” Jackson said. “For Texas, we have air conditioning, but what happens in other countries is that they have to invest in order to get through the heat waves, and that costs money and energy.”

Featured Image: Denton residents were challenged to beat the heat as Texas experienced record hot days during July. Some students on campus carried umbrellas to shield themselves from the sun as they walked from class to class. Kara Dry

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Vanessa McTillmon

Vanessa McTillmon

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1 Comment

  1. dennisa
    dennisa August 04, 18:02

    [Some]”Scientists believe climate change to be an event that has been occurring over the last century due to hazardous toxins and activity produced by humans.”

    Other scientists disagree.

    Reply to this comment

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