Why this period of warm temperatures in mid-June in Colorado is different

Temperatures climbed to 98 degrees in Denver on Monday afternoon – well above the average high of 82 degrees for mid-June, but below the record high of 102 degrees, set on June 14, 2006.

Colorado sits at the eastern end of a huge bubble of hot, dry air that covers the entire Southwestern United States. This hot, dry air mass has little thunderstorm potential, just a few random thunderstorms to provide brief relief from the heat.

Eastern Colorado has seen wet weather in recent weeks so drought conditions have mostly ended along and east of the Continental Divide, but soils are drying out fairly quickly with this recent warm weather. .

Western Colorado, Utah, Nevada, Arizona, New Mexico, and California all experience extreme drought conditions. Drought exacerbates the heat wave as the heat from the sun only warms the soil instead of evaporating the water. This worsens the heat and drought cycle and is not likely to break for most of the summer.

The hottest time of the year is usually mid-July, so it’s an early heat wave. With global warming, we are seeing warmer weather earlier, so this type of event will become more common.

The first 100-degree reading recorded for Denver is June 11, 2013. The June 14 record is 102 degrees, set in 2006. We will likely set records on Tuesday and Wednesday, as the forecast is 100 degrees on both days and records are at 97 and 96 respectively.

If we hit 100 degrees on Tuesday and Wednesday, it would be the first time Denver has seen two consecutive triple-digit days.

June 2012 had 6 days of 100 degrees or more, with 2 days reaching 105 degrees – the hottest temperature ever for Denver. (It was reached on several different days in June, July, and August.)

Our hottest weather is usually in July, but we see heat waves arriving earlier in the warm season, while our midsummer heat waves tend to get longer and warmer in recent years. decades.

The role of climate change cannot be excluded from the equation in this weather model. As the level of carbon dioxide (CO2) in our atmosphere increases, our world gets warmer. The effect of increasing CO2 in our atmosphere has been well understood and known for over 150 years.

The climate has always changed, it’s true – and that’s exactly why we know what’s going on now.

The role of carbon dioxide (CO2) in determining our planet’s temperature is an established science, regardless of efforts to minimize the impact of CO2.

In 1825, a French mathematician – Joseph Fourier – calculated that given the distance from the Sun, the Earth should be much colder. He hypothesized that it was the atmosphere that trapped enough heat to make our planet habitable.

In 1856, Eunice Foote, an American researcher, filled glass jars with different gases and put them in the sun. The pot filled with CO2 warmed the most.

In 1863, John Tyndall, an Irish physicist, made more elaborate experiments with carbon dioxide and found that CO2 was very effective at scavenging longwave or terrestrial energy.

In 1895, a Swedish researcher named Svante Arrhenius hypothesized that doubling the carbon dioxide in the atmosphere would cause the Earth’s average temperature to rise by several degrees. The biggest impact would be in the northernmost latitudes – that’s exactly what we’re seeing!

In the 1970s –CBS presenter Walter Cronkite, known to be America’s most trustworthy man, spoke about the threat of global warming.

Even though CO2 is a TRACE gas in our atmosphere, it is very effective at capturing infrared (Earth) energy from escaping into space. The CO2 molecule vibrates a little during the passage of infrared energy, this tiny “ripple” serves to trap this energy in the atmosphere instead of letting it pass through space.

The analogy is to think of each CO2 molecule like a feather in a down comforter. We are adding feathers at an unprecedented rate, making our atmosphere’s blanket more effective at trapping heat.

On timescales of millions of years, CO2 is primarily a balance between the volcanoes that create it and the “chemical weathering” (dissolution) of the rocks that destroy it. Weathering rocks creates calcium carbonate, which returns carbon to the soil, oceans and the earth’s crust.

When volcanic emissions exceed the dissolution of rocks, CO2 increases and vice versa when volcanic emissions decrease.

CO2 was extremely high (maybe 5 times current levels!) 55 million years ago (more volcanoes than dissolved rocks), and it has been falling steadily for 50 million years in a row.

The main reason the CO2 dropped is because India crashed into Asia, lifting the Himalayas and the Tibetan plateau. All that fresh rock dissolved quickly, sucking in the CO2.

When CO2 got low enough about 2 million years ago (around 300 ppm), we started having ice ages. We’ve had at least 20 since.

During ice ages, about â…“ of all CO2 dissolves in the oceans, so CO2 drops to about 200 ppm. Then, when the ice melts, it rises to about 300 ppm. This has been done 20 times in 2 million years.

During the last great global warming, CO2 rose from 180 to 280 ppm between 18,000 years ago and 8,000 years ago. That’s an increase of 0.01 ppm per century.

Now, as we dig up fossil carbon and ignite it on fire, CO2 increases by 3 ppm per year, 300 times as fast as during the deglaciation! It’s not just that the world is heating up, it’s really the rate at which warming occurs. Since 1800, CO2 has increased more than it did in the 100 centuries after 16,000 BC.

With things changing so quickly, the big concern is how will we handle the rapid change and whether many species will be able to survive because they don’t have time to evolve.

How does the terrestrial carbon cycle work? Here is a little explanation which is very good!

While my job description is mainly to be the “nice and friendly” person who tells people what the high will be tomorrow and whether the weekend will be nice, for many Americans the TV weatherman is also. close to a scientist as possible. , and they invite us to their living rooms!

As TV weather presenters we are station scientists and are often asked to explain related sciences – earthquakes, volcanoes, comets, asteroids, northern lights – these are not “weather” – but these are “sciences”.

AFTER: Katharine Maher of Stanford University explains the mechanisms that heat and cool the planet

We must not back down from climate change at the risk of losing a viewer. It is our responsibility to provide the public with accurate information on global warming.

People often joke me that “you can’t even predict tomorrow’s weather, let alone 100 years from now? “ I agree that the weather forecast is not always as accurate as one would like, but in many ways the climate is much easier to predict than the weather.

First of all, it is very important to realize that a heat wave, tornado outbreak, record flood or major blizzard is not a climate, it is a weather!

Weather is a game in a football game, weather is NFL history!

Even though an individual severe weather event cannot be blamed on global warming, a warmer climate adds energy to the system – “enriching” the atmosphere and will cause more frequent and extreme weather events in the future.

We can expect more intense rains, such as the Front Range flooding in September 2013, but also more forest fires as climate change puts stress on our forests.

Our Colorado climate will warm up over the next 100 years. Denver will have temperatures closer to Albuquerque, New Mexico.

The result will be less snow, lower reservoirs and more frequent droughts. We know that the population will increase and therefore the demand for water, we must anticipate! We were fortunate to have had a few years of heavy snow recently, the long term outlook may not be so rosy.

About Lucille Thompson

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