Some of climate change's most deadly consequences will come from an increase in deadly heatwaves. In this episode, Kory and Kellan discuss what the wet bulb temperature is and how we can expect it to affect us in the future.
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Episode 47 - Heatwaves and Wet Bulb
Kellan: [00:00:00] so Kory earlier this week, you stopped by my house and we were watching the Olympics at my house. And I know by the time this episode is published, the Olympics will be over. But I thought it was interesting that as my kids were cheering for the USA, you seemed very indifferent and maybe you can explain to me your thoughts there.
Kory: [00:00:34] Yeah, I guess number one, when it comes to the whole bread and circuses thing, I'm very selective about my circus. And for some reason, the Olympics just don't do it for me. But the other thing was that just in general, I've realized I'm starting to feel less pride for where I live. And it's not that like I'm anti-American or anything like that, but I feel like I've kind of woken up from this sort of brainwashing that I feel like we're all a part of, not just in the U S but all over the world where we feel like our country is the best and we're more special than other people. And, and, you know, like I just, I watch them competing. And I think like, if I'm going to watch it, it's to be entertained. And I don't really care who wins, what metals they bring home. Okay.
And recently it's just so much, I feel like it's, there's always so much kind of us versus them. And my mind has shifted a lot recently towards just we're all one people. So whether it's someone from the UK or from China, or from South Korea or from the U S what they're doing, the sport, whatever it may be is amazing, and their skill is absolutely spectacular. And for me to be upset because my country was not the one to win, I just, I don't feel that. Yeah.
Kellan: [00:01:48] You make some really valid points there. I do think there is something noble about patriotism and representing the area that you live, while at the same time recognizing that I, as a human being am no more valuable than anybody in any other country in the world. And I liked that idea that you're sharing of seeing us as one global population.
You know, part of the reason I bring it up is because I saw an interesting conversation online. If you look at the last Olympics, the us nearly doubled the next leading country. And when I say that I'm talking about metal count and how many metals were earned during the Olympics. This time around, we're just barely ahead. And we'll see how it all plays out by the time the Olympics is over but it has made me think a little bit about our conversations around ways in which the United States is falling behind. And I know that the number of Olympic metals isn't necessarily an indicator of how much of a global superpower you are, but at the same time, there's a strong correlation. And it's interesting to see, at least at this point in the Olympics, China, right there, neck and neck with the U S.
Kory: [00:02:52] Yeah. And obviously the correlation isn't perfect because like, if the world's superpowers were the best at everything. The U S and China soccer teams would be better than they are. Neither of them are very good, but it makes sense, right? I mean, what you're saying is true in a lot of ways, the U S is just falling behind and it is pretty scary to see, like how much of the world's supply chains fall in the hands of China and upcoming nations like India. And it's kind of been made manifest in our supply chain issues now why it's not great to rely on other countries and why a big part of being resilient is to not really rely on anyone else, if possible, to be able to get things as locally sourced as possible within your community.
But for sure it does feel more and more everyday. Like the American empire is on the decline and it will for sure be interesting to say the least to see where that leads us to in the coming decades as a country and as people within that country.
So today's topic is I think extremely relevant to this time of year because many parts of the world, today right now are experiencing pretty severe heat waves. We've brought this up a couple of times, just in passing in the last few episodes about the heat waves that have been experienced in Europe, uh, in the Western us and perhaps most strangely in the Pacific Northwest and Canada.
And so today we're going to focus specifically on heat waves and then more specifically on wet bulb temperature. We've talked about that in the past, but we haven't really broken down what that means. What is the wet bulb temperature and why is it important? And so we'll, we'll touch on both of those topics today.
Kellan: [00:04:27] Yeah, it has been crazy to see just this year, ya know, all of these records being broken, all these heat records in a number of different areas, but like you said, specifically in the Pacific Northwest. You know, across the U S there've been millions of people that have been put under excessive heat warnings and have been experiencing these triple digit temperatures.
You look at what's happening in Washington and Oregon and British Columbia. And there's just lots of words like " unprecedented" or phrases, you know, people saying this is never before seen and you see extreme heat in. You know, states like Arizona and they get heat waves, but as you get into those Northern states and into Canada, there are less and less people that have air conditioning. And so although heat waves are happening in Arizona as an example, the Pacific Northwest isn't used to it, they don't usually get those kinds of severe temperatures.
And one of the things that I learned recently is that in the United States, more fatalities are caused by extreme heat than any other weather event, which kind of surprised me. Right? If you stack up extreme heat against hurricanes or lightning or floods or tornadoes, Extreme heat is the weather event that kills the most people.
Kory: [00:05:38] And that's crazy because they seem like they're the ones that are sort of least talked about and least dramatic, you know, you think of a tornado or hurricane and just the absolute force and damage to property. I think that causes our brains to think they must be more deadly, but much like hypertension, heat waves are kind of the silent killer.
Kellan: [00:05:58] Yeah. Tornado is an extremely violent weather event. It just absolutely destroys things, but it's usually hyper localized. Whereas a heat wave might cover several states at once.
Kory: [00:06:10] And I mean, it's kind of a, uh, "duh" now, when you think about it, I mean, we talked about the heat wave in the Pacific Northwest that killed somewhere between 800 and a thousand people. When was the last time, you know, a tornado caused that type of, of fatalities?
Kellan: [00:06:24] Yeah. I mean, think about in 2018, the EU recorded 104,000 heat-related deaths, right. That was just a few years ago, but they saw unprecedented heat across the continent. Or in 2003, that European heat wave, they said was the hottest summer on record in Europe, since at least the year 1540. And in that case, 30,000 people died and 14,000 of those were in France. Yeah. So it's just crazy how dangerous it is. You get heat exhaustion and heat stroke, but it also exacerbates preexisting health conditions, which I didn't know this before, but , respiratory diseases, heart conditions, kidney problems, all of that is exacerbated by extreme heat.
And outside of just what it does to the human body, you know, we've talked about what it does to insect populations, and it affects like salmon migration and agriculture.
Kory: [00:07:20] I don't know Kellan if you heard about this, but in California due to the heat waves, they believe that entire generation of salmon are going to be wiped out. Basically annihilated. I can't remember the name of the river. Um, but it killed so many of them and the ones that it didn't kill, it caused lesions and burns on their skin that will likely result in their death and inability to spawn because they can't migrate. And so, yeah, it's just crazy the impact that it has.
Kellan: [00:07:46] Yeah, it kills animals. It disrupts their mating patterns because of all sorts of issues. It fuels wildfires, right? We're seeing so many wildfires. It puts these huge strains on the power grid. And some of that's just from like wires melting, you know, cables. I I've seen images of cables that have just melted from this extreme heat this year, but you also get cables that expand and contract and outside of that, you get a lot more people trying to run their AC. And that's a huge strain on the power grid.
It causes roads to buckle and crack and even melt in some cases. It causes cars to overheat. One thing that I haven't thought of, but it can also cause flash floods, dangerous flash floods because of rapid snow melt. And so we could go on and on, right. And just list all the terrible things that happen when we experience extreme heat.
But then couple that with the fact that the average heat wave season according to the EPA across 50 major metropolitan cities in the U S is 47 days longer now than it was in the 1960s. Wow. And it is crazy. I was on their website, they measure frequency or the number of heat waves that occur in a year. They measure duration, right? Just the length of each heat wave in days. Season length, um, intensity, and they had charts on their website for each one of those things that they're measuring and every single one of those just goes up and up and up.
Kory: [00:09:14] Maybe we should have like a running bet about what's going to disappear first, the middle-class or spring and fall.
Kellan: [00:09:22] That sounds like a really cruel bet. But anyways, as I've been researching it, I'm just blown away by how big of a problem it is, how severe it is. And I think, you know, we talk sometimes about the frog that's in a pot of water and you turn up the heat until it boils. I think we're in that kind of situation almost literally, right? The fact that the temperature just keeps going up to boiling point. But just in the sense that we get used to it and although wildfires can happen, even when we're not having heat waves, they happen a lot more when we have heat waves and I was talking to my sister the other day and she was commenting on just all of the smoke that's been filling the sky across the U S from all the wildfires and just really casually. She made a comment about how like, oh yeah, it's just fire season.
Kory: [00:10:08] No, it's not fire season. It's summer. It's not, the world is not supposed to be on fire.
Kellan: [00:10:14] We got fires and hurricane season anyways, to think like the duration of our heat waves and the amount of wildfires it's just becoming so common. We're so used to it. That we just think like, yeah, this is how life works. We just have the sky filled with smoke for a good portion of the year.
Kory: [00:10:35] Yeah. And it's crazy to me to hear about all of the deaths and destruction that have happened in the past, and that are currently happening from heat waves. You start talking about these numbers that are in like the tens of thousands of people dying or across all of Europe, a hundred thousand people dying. And those numbers are just crazy.
But what's even crazier to me is that climate change is going to unleash a beast on us that we have never experienced up to this point. And that's wet bulb temperatures. So up to this point, we've talked about a threat that we've already been facing, and that's been increasing over time. Like you said, since the sixties in both length, severity, intensity, all of those things, but now we're turning it up to a point where we're talking about temperatures, that don't just kill some people, but they would literally kill everyone exposed to them for a certain amount of time. But before we really get into why that is and what that is. I think it's important to have a little bit of a physiology lesson on how human body works because wet bulb temperature can kind of be this weird, difficult subject to wrap your head around.
I think this will be kind of good to go into. So humans are heat engines. We take chemicals in from food that we then convert into potential energy in our bodies to do labor. And literally everything that we do requires energy. So manual labor, sleeping, even just thinking. Requires energy, which has to come from somewhere, which is our food sources. But humans actually aren't able to really efficiently convert all of that energy in the process of changing those chemicals to potential energy, we lose a lot of that energy to heat.
The human body is actually about 25% efficient in its ability to convert chemicals to energy. So just like a combustion engine in a car loses some energy as exhaust, humans also put off heat so by exerting any amount of energy, we are putting off heat.
And our bodies can only safely operate within certain temperature boundaries, which are between 95 and 100 degrees Fahrenheit, which is like 35 to 38 degrees Celsius. And if you go above or below that you start to experience hyperthermia or hypothermia. So over time, our bodies have evolved to allow a process called Thermo regulation, which basically just lets us regulate our body's heat despite the external temperature being higher or lower than what our bodies can tolerate. And specifically for this episode, we're obviously talking about our body's ability to lower the temperature when it gets too high. So from those things we just talked about, there's two reasons the body needs to lower its temperature, and one's going to be if, you know, I'm exerting a lot of energy, I need to put that heat off, and the other is if the ambient temperature is just too high.
And when there's a mix of those two things happening at once, if I'm working out in extremely high temperatures, there's going to be an even greater need for my body to be able to cool itself. And the way that our bodies cool themselves is through something called evaporative cooling, which for humans is through sweating, you know, for dogs that would be panting.
So when the water evaporates off of a surface that actually cools the surface down. So in the case of humans, it's not just sweating that makes us cool. It's actually the fact that that sweat is evaporating off of our skin that lowers our body temperature. If that sweat didn't evaporate, it wouldn't do anything to help regulate our temperature.
So at this point, we'll stop talking about physiology and shift a little bit to talk about psychometry and hygrometry.
Kellan: [00:14:07] Those are my favorite subjects,
Kory: [00:14:10] so I probably said them wrong. Um, but those are the names for the field of engineering, concerned with the physical and thermodynamic properties of gas vapor mixtures. It's the field of science that concerns itself with wet bulb temperatures specifically because they related to humidity. So to define a couple of things here, um, relative humidity Is a term that we hear a lot but we might not fully know what that means. But it's the amount of water in the air compared to how much water that air can hold. So obviously when you talk about humidity in general, you're talking about how much moisture is in the air, right? If I'm like, man, it feels super humid out here. It's because the air is heavy with moisture, but relative humidity is putting a percentage number to how humid it is relative to how humid it could be before the air literally couldn't hold any more moisture.
So 0% relative humidity is completely bone dry, whereas a hundred percent relative humidity means that any more moisture in the air and it's going to condensate as dew, or it's going to create vapors like fog or clouds .
So that's where wet bulb temperatures come in. If we were to whip out a thermometer right now and just take a reading of the room that would be called the dry bulb temperature. Old-school thermometers with the mercury in them at the bottom, they kind of have that bulb shape. And so that's where dry and wet bulb comes from.
Kellan: [00:15:30] just gotta interject and say thank you for explaining that because every time you've mentioned a wet bulb temperatures, it's just such a weird term. I couldn't figure out why we would use that term.
Kory: [00:15:39] Yeah. It is a little weird. I think there could be other terms used that might make more sense to labor like myself and learning about it it took a bit to figure that out. But, um, so the reason it's called a wet bulb is because a thermometer will actually read differently if it's wrapped in a wet cloth and if air is moved over it. So if we took that same thermometer that just gave us our dry bulb temperature, wrapped it in a wet cloth and then swung it around the temperature reading would be different than it was at the dry bulb. And basically what that does is it simulates an environment in which the relative humidity is a hundred percent.
So when we track a wet bulb temperature, we're basically trying to figure out what the temperature would actually be in any given environment if the relative humidity of that environment was a hundred percent. And so maybe another way to look at that, to clarify, it would be to say that the dry bulb temperature and the wet bulb temperature would be the, exactly the same if relative
was a hundred percent where you took those temperatures. If the relative humidity is less than a hundred percent than the wet bulb temperature is going to be lower than the dry bulb temperature,
okay. That's a little hard for me to wrap my head around. I get the concept, but I'm just trying to think of like how that converts.
Yeah. So are you familiar with the heat index? Have you heard of that before?
Kellan: [00:16:53] No. Should I have heard of that?
Kory: [00:16:55] So if you look on your, uh, like your phone app to see what the temperature is, sometimes it'll say 85 degrees feels like 92 degrees.
Kellan: [00:17:04] I see where it'll say like wind chill. It makes it feel like this certain amount, but you're talking about in relation to humidity.
Kory: [00:17:11] Yeah And wet bulb was the same way. So what the reading of the wet bulb temperature is, isn't necessarily what the actual temperature is. And as an example, there's charts you can look up online. and here's a couple examples of what you'd see on that chart. So if the relative humidity is only 10%, temperatures don't get fatal until 118 degrees Fahrenheit, which is nearly 48 degrees Celsius because at 10% humidity at 118 degrees Fahrenheit, that's a wet bulb temperature of 95 degrees and 95 degrees wet bulb is, is the point at which it's fatal.
Kellan: [00:17:46] When you say a fatal temperature, I'm thinking back to what we were talking about just a little bit ago, obviously for somebody who advanced in age or who has these pre-existing health conditions, their fatal temperature's going to be different than somebody who's in their prime.
So do you know what it is about that temperature that causes it to be fatal? Is it, is it exposure to it for a certain amount of time? Does it do something to your brain or to your respiratory system? Any ideas there?
Kory: [00:18:13] Yeah, absolutely. And I will get to that in just a minute. I think, um, we'll explain the whole reason around why, why that is fatal and who it's fatal to, but just to drive the point home, you know, if we're talking about 10% humidity and 118 degrees Fahrenheit, but at 50% relative humidity, it only has to be 108 degrees Fahrenheit to become fatal. And a a hundred percent humidity again, it would only have to be 95 degrees Fahrenheit to become fatal. So as the relative humidity increases the temperature, the dry bulb temperature that would be required for it to become fatal decreases.
Kellan: [00:18:46] Got it.
Kory: [00:18:47] And so the whole reason for a wet bulb temperature is for us to not have to try and make those conversions all the time. If I know that a 95 degree Fahrenheit or 35 degree Celsius wet-bulb temperature is deadly, then a news agency or a weather app could say warning, wet bulb temperatures of 33 degrees Celsius or 34 degrees Celsius, stay inside in air conditioning. "
Instead of them having to be like " warning, it's going to be 110 degrees outside, but relative humidity is going to be 40%. So watch out because that's too hot." It just gives an easier metric to go by.
So back to your question about who is this dangerous to and why is it so dangerous? One source I saw put it like this, " a sustained wet bulb temperature exceeding 35 degrees Celsius, 95 degrees Fahrenheit, is likely to be fatal even to fit and healthy people unclothed in the shade next to a fan with unlimited water." So the healthiest, most fit person that you know, in otherwise completely favorable conditions would still likely die if exposed to these types of heat for more than I saw some different numbers ranging between three to six hours.
Kellan: [00:19:55] That is crazy to think about, like you're in the shade, you got a fan blowing on you, you got as much water as you need. And yet you're saying even for a healthy person at those temperatures, it's still fatal.
Kory: [00:20:06] That's right. And so this goes back to what we talked about at the beginning with our physiology lesson, that our bodies need to use that evaporative cooling in order to be able to regulate our temperatures. If there's a hundred percent relative humidity, it would be impossible for the sweat on our skin to evaporate because we're already at the point at which condensation is happening. So that sweat that's basically condensated on our skin, stays there and does not evaporate. So at that point, your body is unable to cool itself.
But it doesn't have to be a hundred percent relative humidity for that to happen. Right. The relative humidity is less, but the temperature is higher. Your body is still not able to put off the heat that it needs to in order to regulate. And so that's where that wet bulb temperature comes in.
At the deadly temperatures that we talked about with wet bulb, 95 degrees Fahrenheit, your body literally changes from a heat source to a heat sink. So instead of putting heat off, it's literally bringing heat in which causes hyperthermia. So at that point, we're talking about heat stroke, heat, exhaustion, like you mentioned, it can exacerbate all sorts of pre-existing conditions. But even for the healthiest person, your body ceases to be able to function.
And obviously 35 degrees Celsius wet bulb is a point at which the fittest person can't survive. Humans just can't survive that, but it's going to be a point long before that at which others wouldn't be able to. So the elderly or people with other pre-existing conditions. And I think that's just what makes this so terrifying. Like I mentioned up to this point, we've seen really high temperatures. Ya know, in the Pacific Northwest a thousand people die, most of them were elderly.
But to think about a future in which we're headed where wet bulb temperatures could wreak havoc on every living person who was not able to find themselves in an air conditioned building. So wet bulb temperatures. This high have happened before. It's not something that's unheard of, but they haven't lasted long enough to cause these types of problems. Normally they're happening for an hour or two at a time. And they're not happening in areas populated enough to cause mass casualties. Some examples of, of recorded cities where this has happened in the past, mecca in Saudi Arabia, maracaibo in Venezuela, in Sinaloa, in Mexico, in other places in Pakistan, and the UAE. At weather stations these wet bulb temperatures have been recorded and the frequency of these occurrences is increasing dramatically over time. They said that from 1979 to 2017, it's at least doubled.
And one co-author of a study that was published in may of 2020 said " I believe that humid heat is the most underestimated, direct local risk of climate change. As with sea level rise and coastal flooding, we are already locked in to large increases in the frequency and intensity of extreme human events. And the risk is much larger than most people appreciate. " So not only have we doubled up to this point, but he's talking about how so much of it is already locked in. You know, we're at 1.2 degrees Celsius, barreling towards 1.5 degrees Celsius. And so from here on out the frequency with which these are going to happen, and the chances of them happening for much longer periods of time will continue to rise.
Kellan: [00:23:18] Yeah, that's crazy. I mean, we go back to the fact that the average heat wave season, at least in the us has increased by 47 days a year, just since the 1960s. And that statement you just read, right? Frequency, intensity, all of that we can anticipate an increase. It's no wonder that individual is saying that we've underestimated how big of a risk this really is.
Kory: [00:23:40] Yeah. It's funny. You consider the other consequences of climate change and the ones that are most often talked about like sea level rise. Right? I think a lot of people who are kind of deniers or whatever will, will always use that as like one main consequence of climate change. But then you've got something like this that has the possibility to literally wipe out like entire metropolitan areas.
Um, they say that the tropics specifically are in danger of becoming completely uninhabitable in the coming decades. They're talking about no 40% of people live in tropical countries and by 2050, it's predicted to be 50% of people that will live in tropical countries. Most of which are, you know, poor areas that can't provide the necessary infrastructure to protect against these types of heat waves.
These are places with low rates of air conditioning. Ya know, you and I have both lived in countries in central and south America. I don't know that I ever saw an air conditioning unit. And so to think that there's this possibility that these heat waves could become common would make living in those areas impossible. And so then you get talking about all of the problems with mass migrations, with mass casualty events, and it can make things really dicey.
Um, you know, in India, which there's been towns in India that have already experienced wet bulb temperatures, again, not for long enough frequencies, but as of 2018, only 5% of households in India had AC
and India is a country of I don't know now, 1.3 billion people, something like that.
And so the rate at which this becomes a real sort of prolific and consistent danger, I don't know when that's going to happen, but to think that that could be something that, that comes in in the next decades is terrifying to think of the consequences, both of the human toll and of sociopolitical problems through mass migration.
Kellan: [00:25:25] And here, you're talking about the tropics and you're talking about, you know, the fact that there's not really any air conditioning there. You talked about India and the fact that only 5% of the population has air conditioning. Even here in the U S though, such a high percentage of the population does have air conditioning. I think about what we've seen recently, where they're having to do rolling blackouts during some of these heat waves, just to try and keep the power grid from failing.
Kory: [00:25:50] Yeah. You see how weak our power grids are, you know, in, in Texas with the cold snap, ERCOT losing power. And then in the summer asking people to decrease the amount of power that they're consuming. Same thing in California, they're always having these rolling blackouts. And now these grids that are in danger from wildfires. And so yeah, if a, if an insane heat wave comes through, everybody blasts their AC a grid fails. Even if it's just one company, one city doesn't have power during a wet bulb temperature this high, and yeah, you're looking at catastrophic events.
You know, one thing that we've talked about is that as it gets hotter, the atmosphere can hold more moisture. In the past we've talked about that in context of like clouds and whether or not that would be a net warmer or a net cooler. And we researched that article recently that came out of that study that said that they believe it will be a net warmer, but in this case it's not about clouds at all. you know, they believe that there will be about a 7% increase in moisture in the atmosphere for every degree Celsius of ink.
So, if you think that by 2050 we'll have a three or four degree increase, we're talking somewhere between 21 and 28% increase in total moisture in the atmosphere, which is going to increase relative humidity. So at this point, not only are we getting hotter, we know that temperatures are rising all over the world, but also the average relative humidity is increasing as well making these wet bulb temperatures eventually inevitable.
Kellan: [00:27:12] So if all of that wasn't unsettling enough. There's another aspect to all of this that puts us in an even scarier situation. You know, you may have heard in recent news about heat domes and there are articles out there right now, talking about how there's concern that we'll have a prolonged heat dome in much of the United States.
So if you're not familiar with that term, ya know, first of all, what is a dome? It's essentially a semi sphere, right? You take a bowl and you flip it upside down, and now it's a dome and it, it gets the name because during a heat dome, all the hot air expands and it actually increases the height of the atmosphere, the atmosphere kind of balloons up and makes this dome shape.
So to explain exactly what happens with the heat dome and what it is, there are like 15 different factors that all come into play with a heat dome. So you hear different explanations, but the more I dug into it, it looks like it's just because each source is calling out some of the contributing factors.
But anyways, you get, first of all, lots of heat, which, you know, if you're in the Northern hemisphere that typically happens during June, July, August, and in recent decades, the Western Pacific ocean has warmed up more than the Eastern Pacific. And you think of like a swimming pool that has the heater on the water is going to get hot really quickly right around the heater jet, even though the rest of the pool takes longer.
So you get these differences in temperature, they call it a temperature gradient, and that translates to pressure differences that drives wind. So the prevailing winds move the hot ocean air east, and ya know, land typically heats up and cools down faster than water does. So when you've got a lot of heat, you've got the hot air rising off of the land and all of this heat gets trapped by high pressure up in the atmosphere. So normally hot air rises and then just kind of dissipates. But in the case of heat domes, that high pressure up in the atmosphere actually pushes the hot air back down. So the higher not only gets trapped, but as it tries to escape that lid of high pressure, it gets pushed down and it's forced to sink. And I didn't know this, but as it sinks it compresses, which apparently causes it to warm even more.
Um, so you've got hot air moving down, but the ground is also hot. And so you've got hot air rising from the land as well. And this is where some feedback loops come into play. It's made even worse during a drought because of what you talked about before with evaporation, right? heat energy would normally be used on evaporating water. But when you're in a drought and the moisture in the ground is gone, that heat just warms up the air and ground even more.
So that same high pressure that's causing all this heat to be trapped and to be getting worse and worse also diverts clouds than other weather systems. So you can't get this other weather to come in and push the heat out. And without those clouds, that summer sun is beating down and making things even hotter.
Yeah. And when we experience a heat dome like this, and I'm kind of describing the process specifically as it relates to the United States and the Western United States. It even diverts the jet stream. So the jet stream arches to the north, and with the jet stream, kind of dodging around this heat dome and all of the other weather systems being diverted away from it because they can't break through that high pressure. It makes it so that a heat dome can just kind of sit in place for days or weeks or sometimes even months.
And heat domes aren't anything new, right? It's, It's something that's always happened just as part of our weather patterns, but the magnitude and the severity of them is increasing. So we can't say that climate change is causing heat domes, but the droughts brought on by climate change and the increased heat from climate change is all making them much worse.
Kory: [00:31:04] Yeah. I can imagine there are all sorts of factors from climate change that contribute to the worsening of those domes. I'm curious. Is, are there any factors that make it so that those domes move slower or get stuck in the same spot for longer? Cause I know for example, with the Pacific Northwest, one of the big issues there, it wasn't just that they had this heat dome, but that heat dome stayed for so long.
Kellan: [00:31:26] Yeah. Well, one of them is something that you've actually brought up in a previous episode, which is the slowing of the jet stream. So you taught me some things about the AMOC and jet streams and all the issues that are caused by those slowing down. As those things slow down a lot of our weather patterns kind of just sit in the same spot. You also get the fact that as the ground is dryer, it just exacerbates that heat dome issue. So during drought, right, which we see more and more of during climate change, you're going to see it that much more difficult for us to break that weather pattern.
Kory: [00:31:59] Yeah. Thanks for that. That makes a lot of sense. You know, Kellan and I are not alarmists. I think if you've been listening to the podcast, you know that we don't try and sell this crazy dramatic, you know, these outlandish ideas of the future. We try and take a pretty well-rounded view of things. And this is one of those that I can personally say, I think will happen, will happen sooner than expected. One of the articles that I actually read it in the study of this was titled "dangerous, humid, heat extremes, occurring decades before expected." And then it went on to talk about how many scientists didn't think that these types of heat waves would be happening until the end of the 21st century. And saying that they were expected to happen around 1.5 degrees Celsius.
So it's another one of those examples. Kind of this ridiculous idea that we have until 2100 to hit 1.5 Celsius. And we just talked about, I think it was last week that there's a 40% chance now that we hit 1.5 degrees Celsius at least one year by 2026.
So we can't make any claims as to what extent heat waves, these heat domes, wet bulb temperature is going to have on people. but it does seem apparent that it's poised to wreak havoc. I think there's going to be some pretty large scale heat waves that do a lot of damage and that like these climate scientists are saying could make entire areas of the tropics uninsured.
I would love to believe that we have, as long as scientists used to think, you know, until 2100, before these things start showing up. But based on the rapid increases that we've seen just this year even, and in recent years, makes me think that this is something to watch for just in the coming decades. .