Sustainable Living & Sustainable Lifestyle

Years from now, people may look back on the summer of 2021 as the time when people finally saw the impact of global warming in places no one expected

Hot Planet Summer: North America Sees Record Heat in Many Places

Years from now, people may look back on the summer of 2021 as the time when people finally saw the impact of global warming in places no one expected

As remarkable months of weather go, June 2021 certainly rates a mention, and not for good reasons. Many places in North America recorded record heat, including a heatwave that baked the Pacific Northwest in the U.S. and parts of western Canada.

The World Meteorological Organization (WMO) summed it up this way: “So many records have been broken that it is difficult to keep track.” Hopefully, people will pay attention to the record heat happening across the continent. The remarkable heatwave of 2021 is likely only a taste of things to come without changes in human behavior.

North America Sees Record Heat in Many Places

Record Heat Where You Don’t Expect It

Among the many cases of record heat across North America in 2021, these three rank among the most notable.

  • On June 27, Seattle set an all-time record of 104 degrees, then broke it the next day with the temperature reaching 107.
  • Portland, Oregon, also reached a record high of 112 degrees.
  • The all-time record for high heat in Canada was set three times in June, all of them happening in Lytton, British Columbia. The highest was 121 degrees on June 29. A wildfire on July 1 swept through the village, forcing everyone to evacuate.

WMO wrote of the record set in British Columbia: “The heat is more typical of summer temperatures in the Middle East than a province which is home to the Rocky Mountains and Glacier National Park. There is a consequent risk of high glacier melt.”

In another concerning turn of events, the Siberian town of Verkhoyansk may have set a heat record for a town north of the Arctic Circle with a temperature of 100.4 degrees. Scientists are working to confirm it’s a record.

Why The Heatwave is Happening

It’s now confirmed by scientists that June 2021 is the warmest June ever in North America. But as Time magazine reported, this is far from over: “The fact that the hottest northern hemisphere Junes have all happened in the past six years gives us a pretty good indication of where things are going next.”

A combination of a “significant atmospheric blocking pattern” has led to the heat dome in North America, with low pressure on either side, according to the WMO. Compounding the problem is that the jet stream is not moving it along. A similar heatwave hit the U.S. Southwest earlier in the summer, leaving many areas facing a severe water shortage.

All is not lost, however. Time reports that heat-related fatalities, for example, could be reduced if countries quickly move to meet the reduction in carbon emissions mandated by the Paris Accords. An increasing number of surveys show that the public’s attitudes of what causes global warming is changing.

The magazine reports that’s an extremely important change because “unless attitudes change, record heat won’t either.”

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