By: Izabela Lewalski
Summary: On August 16, 2020 at 3:41 p.m., the temperature in Death Valley reached 130 degrees Fahrenheit. 130 degrees Fahrenheit would be the highest reliably measured temperature on the planet. Previously, a record temperature of 134 degrees Fahrenheit had been recorded in Death Valley in 1913. This record has been put in question because it may not have been reliably measured. The temperature recorded on August 16 is the world’s highest temperature officially recorded since 1931. There may be places on Earth that are hotter, such as the Sahara Desert, but these places are too remote to monitor reliably. The reason that reliably measuring temperatures is difficult is because the thermometer should be shielded from the sun and above the ground. The standards for reliable temperature measuring was set by the World Meteorological Organization. The Death Valley instrument, a thermistor, meets the standards and sends readings hourly to a satellite. Record temperatures are then validated by the Climate Extremes Committee. Death Valley is the driest, lowest, and hottest location in the United States. Heat records such as this one typically are recorded in July, the hottest month in the Northern Hemisphere, which makes August record stand out. The record temperature was recorded while a heat wave swept through the Western United States. This is the heat wave that could be connected to the intensification of the wildfires in the area. The record temperature, and the heat wave, can be connected to the issue of climate change. Scientists have found that the intensity of the heatwaves are increasing due to human-caused climate change. Climate studies have also concluded that climate change is having an effect on wildfire activity in the United States. Jeremy Pal, a professor of environmental engineering at Loyola Marymount University, believes that this is not surprising. He said, “as climate continues to warm, we’d expect more of these events and more of these record-breaking temperatures.” The record breaking temperature recorded in Death Valley is likely not an isolated event.
Why we should care? I believe that we should care about this topic because climate change affects all people. Climate change will eventually affect all aspects of life and record temperatures like this are only the beginning.
I found this article interesting because it does well in explaining the history of record high temperatures and what the causes could be. While it might be cool to some people to have the place with the highest reliably measured temperature is in the United States, this article points out the problems that this could cause. Heat waves and record high temperatures are associated with the West Coast wildfires. The wildfires are devastating to the environment and the people that live there. It is important to monitor temperatures because the recorded temperatures can be used to monitor some of the effects of climate change. I thought that this article was informative and interesting to read because it did not only give the immediate facts. It included how record high temperatures will continue to happen and people will begin to notice because it will affect their lives.
Science in Action.
Dr. Daniel Swain is a climate scientist in the Institute of the Environment and Sustainability at the University of California.
Dr. Daniel Swain studies the physics, dynamics, and impact of the Earth’s changing climate. He studies how climate change affects the character and cause of regional climate extremes, including wildfires and droughts. He recently began to study the climate-related factors driving the wildfires in California with his colleagues. He is also the author of the Weather West blog, which has information on California and Western North American weather, climate, and regional change. Dr. Swain was interviewed by the New York Times after the record temperature on August 16th in Death Valley. He believes that the high temperatures are a part of a variety of atmospheric phenomena that have unfolded in recent years. He believes that events like these will only become worse as time goes on. He also believes that as the climate continues to change, temperatures of 130 degrees will be recorded in places where people live.