NASA predicts more extreme weather events, but ‘we can stop making it worse’ – National

Since recording began in 1880, 2021 recorded the sixth highest global surface temperature – a trend that experts say will continue and produce extreme weather events affecting infrastructure and agriculture in the future.

In a virtual briefing on Thursday, NASA climate scientists said that over the past five years, there has been “no shortage of extremes” and they predict that more extreme heat waves, intense rainfall and more coastal flooding will continue.

According to NASA’s annual Global Climate Report released on Thursday, Canada and the rest of North America had their seventh warmest year on record in 2021 with a temperature that was 1.40 C (2.52 F) above average.

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In an interview with Global News’ Jackson Proskow, Gavin Schmidt, director of NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies, said the world has reached a plateau of warming that is actually part of an ongoing warming. This is due to the increases in greenhouse gases, especially carbon dioxide and methane, he said.

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“We’re seeing global warming … have a direct impact on extreme weather conditions (as shown by) the heat waves in western Canada last summer, changes in coastal floods and changes in intense rainfall,” Schmidt said.

“All of these things are now becoming more and more strongly linked to the fact that we have warmed the planet by more than one degree Celsius over the last 100 years,” he added.

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Overall, the temperature drop in February 2021 to North America was -1.34 C (-2.41 F) – North America’s coldest February since 1994, -oneaccording to the NASA report on how a warmer climate has affected the weather.

According to the Government of Canada, the prairies had maximum temperatures as high as -34.0 C (-29.2 F) and wind cold at night between -45 C to -55 C (-49 F to -67.0 F), which set many new record temperatures that go back 50 years.

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“The extreme cold temperatures caused breaks in water mains and cracked railway lines and set records for energy needs,” the report said.

It should be noted that June 2021 was North America’s warmest June ever, NASA said. During the last week of June, an extreme heat wave affected much of the northwestern contiguous United States and western Canada, with maximum temperatures exceeding 38.0 C (100 F), which is not typical of the region.

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According to the World Meteorological Organization, Lytton, BC, set a new national maximum temperature record for three consecutive days. The most recent record was 49.6 C (121.3 F) set on June 29, 2021, which is a maximum temperature more typical of summer temperatures in the Middle East.

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The NASA report stated that “the intense heat was blamed for close to 800 reported deaths and hospitalizations related to the heat in western Canada. In the US, preliminary reports said the heat affected crops such as berries and wheat.”

A professor of geoscience at Simon Fraser University in British Columbia, John J. Clague, said Canada will need to improve public infrastructure amid a warmer climate that comes with extreme weather, such as floods and droughts.

“I think people … especially in British Columbia, realize that we’re heading into a new world. It’s not going to be the old normal. So they’re really starting to recognize that we need to adapt , ”Said Clague.

As of January 11, British Columbia has once again extended its provincial state of emergency, saying some highways are still damaged from November’s floods and mudslides, along with the possibility of further flooding this week.

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Clague explained that people in British Columbia can see the devastation caused by floods, which is why the province needs to improve the public infrastructure that supports the economy.

“The Department of Transportation maintains our highway system and railroads, but basically they were built at one point and did not have these extreme conditions. And I think we have to rethink … the way they construct them,” Clague said.

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Floods on the Similkameen River due to ice failure

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He said it is worth spending money on improving existing infrastructure, because if it is not done, extreme weather events such as floods could cause economic damage that could cost billions of dollars.

“The key to moving forward is that people need to recognize and support actions to adapt better. Some of these are government responsibilities, but they need to be driven by public support,” Clague said.

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Is it possible to slow down global warming?

According to Schmidt, the only way to slow global warming is to stop emitting greenhouse gases, especially carbon dioxide.

“We are not going to go back to the temperatures we had in the 1980s. That ship has largely sailed, but we can stop making it worse,” Schmidt said.

He also pointed out that there are many governments working to reduce their emissions.

“One piece of science that is useful, and I think gives us a little bit of hope, is that … the temperature rises that we can see are almost exclusively due to the future emissions that we are going to make. we have control over our destiny, ”Schmidt said.

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A professor at George Washington University, who teaches sustainable energy courses, Scott Sklar, said that one of the problems with convincing people to prioritize the climate is that there is too much pressure on people.

“It’s going to be something overwhelming. And then they shut down, and then we’m stuck. So my view is that there are some simple personal choices that people can make in their homes and businesses about how they work, ”said Sklar.

“The first is energy efficiency … so everything from LED bulbs and when you buy office machines and appliances, you need to be more efficient and of course turn off the light,” he added.

He also suggested that when people get new cars, they should focus on getting more efficient, like electric cars, so there are opportunities and reasons for optimism.

“I believe in this interconnected world, as now with all these horrible patterns we have seen from forest fires and hurricanes, the majority of people on the planet are getting it, but we need to make sure that there are achievable tools for them, Said Sklar.

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All eyes are on the Fraser Valley as an atmospheric river to bring heavy rain to BC’s south coast

All eyes are on the Fraser Valley as an atmospheric river to bring heavy rain to BC’s south coast

-With files from Global News Jackson Proskow.

© 2022 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.


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