A heatwave is a period of uncommonly hot weather that normally lasts for two days or more. The temperature has to be outside the historical averages for a particular region to be considered a heatwave.” (Gardiner) They are severe climatic phenomena that need to be addressed urgently.
Heatwaves are the result of trapped air. During a heatwave the air is forced downwards due to high pressure. The force inhibits air near the surface from rising, and the sinking air acts like a cap to trap warm air in the ground. With the absence of rising air or rain, hot air cannot be prevented from getting hotter. Temperatures are becoming hotter across the globe, and although the humidity produced by heatwaves varies they determine the intensity of their effects.
Global warming has significantly contributed to the frequency of heatwaves. Some areas experience record-breaking temperatures five times more frequently than they would occur in the absence of human-caused global warming. Heatwaves have thus increased the demand for energy, for there is an increase in the use of electricity-powered devices for cooling purposes (Gardiner). Unfortunately, the increasing demand for energy is among the main contributors to global warming. Environmentalists suggest that if people continue to rely considerably on fossil fuels, heat waves will continue to surge. In contrast, if people put measures in place to lessen the emissions of greenhouse gases, the frequencies of heatwaves will lessen after 2040. Regardless of the above, people in different parts of the world will continue to experience heat waves, but their frequencies will depend on the steps people take today (Gardiner). It is therefore imperative to address the threat of heatwaves with urgency and implement measures to ensure that their frequencies and intensities are not exacerbated.
Heatwaves can augment other types of disasters, in particular, drought, and hot, dry conditions can contribute to wildfires. Growing incidences of heatwaves across the United States pose high risks to ecosystems, human beings, and the economy. Extreme heat is one of the leading causes of weather-related deaths in the nation with over 600 people every year (Heat Waves and Climate Change). When the human body cannot cool itself effectively, individuals suffer heat stress. The body cannot cool itself through sweating when the humidity levels are high and elevated temperatures can cause heat-related illness and mortality. Other health problems such as skin cancer can also result. Additionally, high temperatures are predominantly damaging to agriculture (“Heat Waves and Climate Change”). Most crops require cool temperatures to thrive and excess heat causes crops to fail, creating food shortages. The devastating effects of heat waves are important climatic issues.
Heatwaves are the critical results of climate change that need to be addressed urgently. Their intensities and frequencies vary in different regions. Global warming has significantly contributed to their frequencies which are responsible for exacerbating droughts and affecting agriculture. Moreover, heatwaves affect human health with illnesses such as skin cancer and mortality. Environmentalists suggest that if people continue to rely considerably on fossil fuels, heatwaves will continue to increase.
Gardiner, Lisa. “Heat Waves.” Windows to the Universe, 15 July 2009, www.windows2universe.org/earth/Atmosphere/heat_wave.html&edu=high. Accessed 15 Nov. 2019.
“Heat Waves and Climate Change.” Center for Climate and Energy Solutions,www.c2es.org/content/heat-waves-and-climate-change/. Accessed 15 Nov. 2019.
SciJinks. It’s All About the Weather <https://scijinks.gov/heat/>