Society needs accurate information in order to make crucial environmental decisions.
Unfortunately, there has been a substantial amount of miscommunication and unscientific handwaving about the recent Northwest heatwave, and this blog post uses rigorous science to set the record straight.
First, the specific ingredients that led to the heatwave are discussed, including a high-amplitude ridge of high pressure and an approaching low-pressure area that “supercharged” the warming. Second, it is shown that global warming only contributed a small about (1-2F) of the 30-40F heatwave and that proposed global warming amplification mechanisms (e.g., droughts, enhanced ridging/high pressure) cannot explain the severe heat event. It is shown that high-resolution climate models do not produce more extreme high temperatures under the modest global warming of the past several decades and that global warming may even work against extreme warming in our region. Importantly, this blog demonstrates that there is no trend towards more high-temperature records.
Finally, the communication of exaggerated and unfounded claims by the media, some politicians, and several activists are discussed.