News Stories

Record Warming in Our Future

Despite what's happening in Alaska and the Midwest, a recent study of centuries of weather suggests we have record warming ahead.

Researchers looking at weather patterns since the end of the last Ice Age predict that average surface temperatures will be at their highest point in human history by the end of this century. But we'll survive: In the last 11,300 years, humans endured a planet warmer than today's, as they built their earliest civilizations.

According to NASA, the average global temperature for 2012 was 58.3 degrees Fahrenheit, making it the ninth-hottest year in recorded history. In the March 7th edition of the Los Angeles Times, Monte Morin quotes climatologist Shaun Marcott as saying, "By the year 2100, we will be beyond anything human society has ever experienced."

Morin quotes climatologist Michael Mann as saying, "We know that there were periods in the past that were warmer than today--for example, the Cretaceous period 100 million years ago. The real issue is the rate of change, because that's what challenges our adaptive capacity."

If it's getting hotter where YOU live, it might be from all the heat being generated by your nearby big city. Even if you live more than 1,000 miles from the nearest large city, it could be affecting your weather.

In a new study that shows the extent to which human activities are influencing the atmosphere, scientists have concluded that the heat generated by everyday activities in metropolitan areas alters the character of the jet stream and other major atmospheric systems. This affects temperatures across thousands of miles, significantly warming some areas and cooling others.

The extra "waste heat" generated from buildings, cars, and other sources in major Northern Hemisphere urban areas causes winter warming across large areas of northern North American and northern Asia. Temperatures in some remote areas can increas by over one degree Fahrenheit. At the same time, the changes to atmospheric circulation caused by the waste heat cool areas of Europe by almost 2degrees F, with much of the temperature decrease occurring in the fall. This may explain why some regions are experiencing more winter warming than projected by climate computer models.

Climatologist Aixue Hu says, "The burning of fossil fuel not only emits greenhouse gases but also directly affects temperatures because of heat that escapes from sources like buildings and cars. Although much of this waste heat is concentrated in large cities, it can change atmospheric patterns in a way that raises or lowers temperatures across considerable distances."

Is somebody miles away--maybe even across the globe--changing your weather? Afraid so!

In 1998, Whitley Strieber had never heard of climate change, but after the Master of the Key burst into his hotel room in Toronto and told him all about it, he could no longer deny it, which led to his bestselling book "Superstorm."



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