The “heat dome” that broke temperature records in the United States and Canada – 29/06/2021 – World

Canada recorded its highest temperature in history as the western part of the country and the northwestern United States face an unprecedented heat wave.

In Lytton, British Columbia, thermometers hit 46.6 ° C on Sunday (27), surpassing the record 84 years ago, officials said.

A phenomenon called thermal dome or dome (high static pressure that acts like a pan lid) has led to high temperature records in other parts of North America.

The United States and Canada have warned residents of the dangers surrounding such levels of heat which can linger throughout the week. Experts say climate change linked to global warming will increase the frequency of extreme weather events such as heat waves. However, it is complex to associate an isolated event with an increase in the temperature of the planet.

BBC meteorologist Nick Miller explains that this “heat dome” is not a clear meteorological term, but it is often associated with the description of large areas of high pressure that result in cloudless skies. and hot sunny days. The longer this high pressure scenario lasts, the more severe the heatwave, with temperatures rising every day.

This area of ​​high pressure is enormous, stretching from California to the Arctic territories of Canada and into the interior of Idaho.

Sales of air conditioning and fans exploded and cooling shelters were opened. Some bars and restaurants, and even a swimming pool, were found to be too hot to operate.

Lytton, which is about 250 km northeast of Vancouver (western Canada), broke the previous Canadian record in July 1937 when temperatures in two towns in the province of Saskatchewan, Yellow Grass and Midale, reached 45 ° C.

David Phillips, senior climatologist at Environment Canada (a department of the country’s Ministry of the Environment), told CTV: “I like breaking a record, but it’s like breaking it and pulverizing it in western Canada. ‘to Dubai. [Emirados Árabes Unidos]”.

The expert said that it is possible that some areas of the country exceed 47 ° C.

British Columbia energy providers say there has been an increase in demand for electricity to run air conditioners. Environment Canada said the warning extended to other parts of the country and predicted a “long, dangerous and historic heat wave that will persist this week”, with temperatures 10 ° C to 15 ° C above the normal.

“Historic” heat in the northwestern United States

The northwestern United States also broke records. The country’s National Weather Service (NWS) called the heatwaves “historic” and said they would persist throughout the week, “with many daily, monthly and even historical records likely to be set. “.

Portland and Seattle, cities with climates known for their precipitation, recorded the highest temperatures in their history. The former broke its previous record when temperatures reached 44 ° C, and the latter did the same when it hit 40 ° C, according to official data.

Oregon, where Portland is located, has relaxed restrictions enacted against the Covid-19 pandemic to allow the opening of swimming pools and air-conditioned areas such as shopping malls. Seattle, however, had to close a swimming pool due to “dangerous and unsafe temperatures on the bridge.”

Fruit growers are rushing to harvest the crops, fearing the heat could spoil cherries and other items. But the harvest must be stopped for lunch because the temperature becomes unbearable.

BJ Thurlby, chairman of Northwest Cherry Growers, the committee that brings together cherry growers, told the Seattle Times, “We are navigating absolutely unknown waters.

The U.S. Olympic qualifiers had to be cut short in Eugene, Oregon on Sunday due to the heat. The public has been asked to leave the stadium for safety reasons. Some vaccination centers have also closed for the same reason.

All citizens were urged to stay hydrated, avoid strenuous activity, and watch over vulnerable neighbors.

“Climate emergency”, analysis by Roger Harrabin, specialist in environmental issues

We can’t say for sure that this brutal heat wave was caused by greenhouse gas emissions, but scientists argue that every heat wave that occurs today is more likely and more intense due to the human-induced climate change.

In fact, scientists have dramatically improved the ability to link extreme events to climate change, like the heat wave that hit Europe in 2019, which the researchers said was a hundred times more likely to occur due to weather conditions. carbon dioxide emissions.

More worryingly, these temperatures were reached with global brands just 1.1 ° C above pre-industrial times.

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change considers that we will likely exceed 1.5 ° C above this level in a short period of time. And at current rates, we will exceed a 2 ° C rise, and maybe even more.

However, China and India continue to build new coal-fired power plants. And the G7, the group of the richest economies in the world (Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, United Kingdom and United States), has not set a deadline to end this type of production of ‘energy.

The UK and other countries are still drilling wells to burn more oil and gas, saying they will be needed by 2050. All of this certainly points to a climate emergency.

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