West more likely to be afflicted by heat waves | VailDaily.com

West more likely to be afflicted by heat waves

Allen Best

EAGLE COUNTY – Climate scientists say global warming will produce more extreme weather events. There will be more intense droughts and more torrential rains, they say. Heat waves are also expected to worsen, and among the places projected to be worst hit is the western United States.”It’s the extreme weather and climate events that will have some of the most severe impacts on human society as the climate changes,” says Gerald Meehl, a researcher at the National Center for Atmospheric Research in Boulder.Using a new computer model, Meehl and another researcher, Claudia Tebaldi, recently concluded that heat waves will become more frequent, last longer, and have higher temperatures. Higher night temperatures particularly contribute to human mortality.Heat can kill rapidly. A six-day heat wave in 1995 in Chicago left 739 people dead. Last year, 15,000 people were estimated to have died from a heat wave in Paris.Meehl and other researchers have also completed a study that finds that freeze-free days will become more frequent as temperatures increase. Again, this effect is likely to be particularly discernible in the West. However, they find no evidence that the growing season will necessarily become longer, as early- and late-season frosts may still occur.Vail Colorado

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