Record heat, climate change: What U-M experts want us to know
ANN ARBOR—The extreme heat and weather that's plaguing much of the U.S. and many countries around the world may be just the tip of the iceberg as the world feels the effects, University of Michigan experts say, of accumulating climate change that's leaving humans—and animals—to try to adapt, to stay cool and safe, the most vulnerable people often ending up in hospitals or dying.
Meanwhile, FEMA's disaster relief budget is dwindling from responses to tornadoes, flooding and other extreme weather as record-setting temperatures raise concerns over insufficient power grids, in the south and north, and conversations and research seeking to understand causes and solutions and climate change continues
Jonathan Overpeck is an interdisciplinary climate scientist and dean of the School for Environment and Sustainability. He is an expert on climate and weather extremes, sea-level rise, the impacts of climate change and options for dealing with it. He served as a lead author on the authoritative Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change 2007 and 2014 reports.
"Unprecedented heat waves around the globe are once again shattering records," he said. "Ever more frequent, longer and more severe heat waves have long been anticipated by climate scientists as an increasingly dangerous example of human-caused climate change. People need to be extra careful when exposed to the heat and recognize that the only way to stop the situation from worsening even more is to halt the cause of climate change—primarily the burning of fossil fuels."
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Richard Rood is a professor emeritus of climate and space sciences and engineering at the College of Engineering and a professor emeritus at the School of Environment and Sustainability. He is an expert on U.S. weather modeling and can discuss the connection between weather, climate and society. He is also a co-principal investigator at the Great Lakes Integrated Sciences and Assessments, a federally funded partnership between U-M and Michigan State University.
"With the onset of El Niño and the persistent warming due to greenhouse gasses, we expect 2023 and 2024 to be among the hottest years experienced by humans," Rood said. "As we enter into summer, the global oceans are at record warmth, and the Gulf of Mexico and the North Atlantic are especially hot. This virtually assures that we will see persistent heat, often flirting with historic records of duration and intensity.
"Associated with this heat will be flooding in wet regions and the rapid onset of drought in dry regions. This is not a one-off event, but the continuation of warming and an alert for us to move more aggressively on adaptation."
Contact: [email protected]