More Heat to Come—Eventually

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The current heat wave is about to moderate here on the U.S. east coast. Temperatures will “only” be in the 90’s for the next week or so, compared with the 100-plus we’ve been sweating profusely under .

For those of us who write about climate, extreme weather events—not only heat waves, but also floods, droughts, hurricanes, wildfires and more—are a good excuse to remind readers that while no single extreme event can be cited as proof of climate change, the more you see, the more you have to believe something is going on. It’s kind of like throwing dice: if you get snake-eyes three times in a row, you might raise your eyebrows. If you get ten in a row, it’s pretty unlikely, but not impossible. If you get fifty, you’re playing with loaded dice.

Most climate experts are convinced Earth’s dice have been loaded with emissions of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases. To help visualize the changes we’re likely to see, my Climate Central colleague Claudia Tebaldi did the calculations underlying the graphic above, which projects the change in numbers of days above 95 by mid-century. The projection is based on a mid-range emissions scenario and uses an ensemble of climate models.

Claudia also supplied the data for this August projection, which is slightly different, but carries the same message. There’s also an animated version and a more general discussion of summer heat waves here.

August heat of the future