Remember last winter when blizzards hit Washington D.C. and the East Coast? Climate change deniers had a field day asking, "What global warming?" Now, in the midst of a 100 year heat wave on the East Coast, Stanford University researchers have published a new study concluding that such heat waves in both the Eastern and the Western U.S. will be frighteningly commonplace in future decades -- as much as four to five times more prevalent than in the past.
As the Sacramento Bee article reporting the Stanford research puts it, "Folks sweating out the heat wave battering parts of the country may just have to get used to it." The Stanford researchers conclude that "As global warming continues such heat waves will be increasingly common in the future."
Noah Diffenbaugh, an assistant professor of environmental Earth system science at Stanford, said, "In the next 30 years, we could see an increase in heat waves like the one now occurring in the eastern United States or the kind that swept across Europe in 2003 that caused tens of thousands of fatalities."
The Stanford researchers used computer models of climate to calculate changes from increased levels of carbon dioxide and other gases in the atmosphere. They calculate that within 30 years average temperature could be 3.6 degrees Fahrenheit (2 Celsius) higher than they were in the mid-1800s. What's new in this study is that the researchers focused specifically on heat waves over the United States.
Their conclusion is that an intense heat wave equal to the longest on record from 1951 to 1999 is likely to occur as many as five times between 2020 and 2029 over areas of the western, central and eastern United States. The 2030s are projected to be even hotter.
Diffenbaugh was surprised by the extent of the climate impacts the Stanford study found. He said, "I did not expect to see anything this large within the next three decades. This was definitely a surprise."
Well, will we now see a spate of news stories pointing out that the current heat wave supports the global warming thesis? Especially in light of the recent complete exonerations of the scientists accused of hoaxing everyone in "Climategate"? How will the climate deniers debunk heat waves and the science behind the Stanford study?