Heat Waves • Global Warming Forecasts
Heat Waves, Global Warming
2010 – 2019. Stanford computer models project a dramatic spike in extreme seasonal temperatures during the period 2010 - 2019.
“The Stanford team also forecast a dramatic spike in extreme seasonal
temperatures during the current decade [2010 – 2019]. Temperatures
equaling the hottest season on record from 1951 to 1999 could occur four
times between now  and 2019 over much of the U.S., according to
the researchers. The 2020s and 2030s could be even hotter, particularly
in the American West.” (Mark Shwartz, communications manager, Woods Institute for the Environment at Stanford University, “Heat waves and extremely high temperatures could be commonplace in the U.S. by 2039, Stanford study finds,” Stanford Report, July 8, 2010 citing findings in Diffenbaugh, Noah, and Moetasim Ashfaq. Intensification of hot extremes in the United States. Geophysical. Research Letters, (in press) DOI: 10.1029/2010GL043888, August 6, 2010)
Between 2010 and 2019 [9 years], temperatures equaling the hottest season on record from 1951 to 1999 [a 48 year period] could occur four times over much of the U.S. (1)
— Diffenbaugh and Ashfaq
Woods Institute, Stanford University
Geophysical Research Letters
Are scientists and policy-makers underestimating the potential severity of climate change impacts?
2020. By 2020 excess U.S. annual summer deaths due to extreme heat events projected to reach 1,981 to 4,100. “In a study on the impact of future climate scenarios on mortality in 44 cities [SMSAs],
Kalkstein and Greene estimate that by 2020, under a business-as-usual
emissions scenario, excess annual summer deaths will increase from 1840
to 1981 – 4100 (depending on the GCM
used)....” (George Luber, MA, PhD, Michael McGeehin, PhD, MSPH, “Climate Change and Extreme Heat Events,” American Journal of Preventive Medicine, 2008;35(5):429–435, November 2008, p. 431 citing findings in Laurence S. Kalkstein and J. Scott Greene, “An evaluation of climate/mortality relationships in large U.S. cities and the possible impacts of a climate change,” Environmental Health Perspectives, Volume 105, No. 1, January 1997, Table 4 and pp. 90-91)
Every summer, more than 6,000 Americans are hospitalized for heat exposure, and 2005 data put the death toll that year at 180, according to the U.S. Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality. (6)
study projects that intense heat waves are likely to occur as many as
five times between 2020 and 2029 over areas of the western and central
U.S. “Exceptionally long heat waves
and other hot events could become commonplace in the United States in
the next 30 years [2010 – 2039], according to a new study by Stanford
University climate scientists. ‘Using a large suite of climate model
experiments, we see a clear emergence of much more intense, hot
conditions in the U.S. within the next three decades,’ said Noah Diffenbaugh, an assistant professor of environmental Earth system science at Stanford and the lead author of the study. . . . The [study, Intensification of hot extremes in the United States], took two years to complete and is co-authored by Moetasim Ashfaq, a former Stanford postdoctoral fellow now at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory.
Number of Extremely Hot Seasons Per Decade
Projected heat for U.S. -- Source: Diffenbaugh and Ashfaq, Aug., 6, 2010
2025. Climate change heat events in 2025 projected to cause 101 additional deaths among persons aged 45 and above. “Climate change in Washington will likely lead to significantly more heat- and air pollution-related deaths throughout this century. Projected warming would likely result in 101 additional deaths among persons aged 45 and above during heat events in 2025.” (Littell, J.S., M. McGuire Elsner, L.C. Whitely Binder, and A.K. Snover (eds), The Washington Climate Change Impacts Assessment: Evaluating Washington's Future in a Changing Climate, A report by The Climate Impacts Group, University of Washington, Seattle, Washington, June 2009, p. 2)
Stanford study projects that during the 2030s most areas of Utah,
Colorado, Arizona and New Mexico could endure at least seven seasons of
intense heat waves. "According to [Stanford University] climate models, an intense heat wave
– equal to the longest on record from 1951 to 1999 – is likely to occur
[more than five times during the 2030s]. . . .
Number of Extremely Hot Seasons Per Decade, 2030-2039
"By 2039, most of the U.S. could experience at least four seasons equally as intense as the hottest season ever recorded from 1951-1999, according to Stanford University climate scientists. In most of Utah, Colorado, Arizona and New Mexico, the number of extremely hot seasons could be as high as seven." Source: Diffenbaugh and Ashfaq, Aug., 6, 2010.
Does not include the effects of contributions of carbon dioxide and methane released into the atmosphere from permafrost melting.
Listen to Texans Seek Relief From Heat Wave
2040. By 2040 heat waves like the lethal 2003 heat wave are likely to take place in Europe every other year. “Last week, Paul Della-Marta, a researcher at Switzerland's Federal Office of Meteorology and Climatology, presented findings at an international conference on climate science in Gwatt, Switzerland, showing that since 1880 the duration of heat waves in Western Europe has doubled and the number of unusually hot days in the region has nearly tripled. In a separate 2004 study, researchers at Britain's Hadley Centre for Climate Prediction and Research produced computer models showing that greenhouse gas emissions had doubled the likelihood of events like the lethal 2003 European heat wave, and that by 2040 it is likely such heat waves will take place there every other year.
And researchers at the National Climatic Data Center in Asheville, N.C.,
reported this week [week of August 4, 2006] that nighttime summer
temperatures across the country have been unusually high for the past
eight years, a record streak.” (Juliet Eilperin, Washington Post Staff
Writer, “More Frequent Heat Waves Linked to Global Warming - U.S. and
European Researchers Call Long Hot Spells Likely,” The Washington Post, August 4, 2006)
2040. By 2040 more than half of Europe's summers are likely to top deadly record temperatures of 2003 under scenarios developed by UK researchers. “Europe's summer of 2003 seared itself into the record books as the hottest, deadliest summer the continent has endured in at least 500 years. Temperatures in Paris topped 104 degrees. Even nightfall brought little or no relief. Now, a new analysis [Human contribution to the European heatwave of 2003] from researchers at the Hadley Center for Climate Prediction and Research and Oxford University in Britain suggests more than half of the risk that the heat wave would occur can be traced to human influence on climate. If concentrations of heat-trapping "greenhouse" gases from power plants and factories continue to increase, even at a modest pace, they say, by 2040 more than half of Europe's summers are likely [to] top those record temperatures of 2003. By 2100, the summer of 2003 could even stand as an unusually cool one.” (Peter N. Spotts, Staff writer of The Christian Science Monitor, “Heat wave risk rising with emissions,” The Christian Science Monitor, Boston, Massachusetts, December 2, 2004 citing findings in Stott, P. A., D. A. Stone, and M. R. Allen. 2004. Human contribution to the European heatwave of 2003. Nature, 432, 610-614. Corrigem. Nature, 436, 1200)
2040. Heat waves predicted to sweep through many parts of Europe by 2040. “Climate change experts predict that heat waves will sweep through many parts of Europe by 2040, according to the Met Office's Hadley Centre,
a U.K. climate-research center — creating serious impacts on freshwater
resources.” (No author credited, “Shrinking Swiss Glacier,” National Geographic News, March 19, 2010)
2043. Extreme heat waves projected to reach the U.S. by 2043. “New research shows that climate change will force the more than one billion people who live in tropical areas to adapt to extreme climates within the next decade. Extreme heat waves will likely reach the U.S. by 2043. Published Oct. 9  in the journal Nature, the article [“The projected timing of climate departure from recent variability”] by scientists at the University of Hawaii at Manoa predicts that if greenhouse gas emissions continue at current rates, the annual average temperatures in many areas will be hotter than they have been in any year between 1860 and 2005. By 2047, the coldest temperatures would be warmer than the past hottest temperatures, the scientists say. . . . The results shocked us. Regardless of the scenario, changes will be coming soon,’ said [climatologist Camilo Mora]. ‘Within my generation, whatever climate we were used to will be a thing of the past.” (Danielle Elliot, CBS News, “Study: Unprecedented heat will reach U.S. in 30 years,” CBS News, October 10, 2013 announcing findings in Camilo Mara et al, “The projected timing of climate departure from recent variability,” Nature, doi:10.1038/nature12540, Volume 502, October 9, 2013, pp. 183–187)
Heat Wave Forecasts - Diffenbaugh and Ashfaq
Adapted from Diffenbaugh and Ashfaq, Aug., 6, 2010. Does not include the heat-producing impacts of contributions of carbon dioxide and methane released into the atmosphere from permafrost melting
and thermokarst erosion, methane released from freshwater lakes and
rivers or methane escaping from shale gas drilling and hydraulic
fracturing 'fracking' operations.
Heat wave impact and policy questions:
2050. By 2050 excess U.S. annual summer deaths due to extreme heat events projected to reach up to 3,190 to 4,748. “In a study on the impact of future climate scenarios on mortality in 44 cities [SMSAs],
Kalkstein and Greene estimate that by , under a business-as-usual
emissions scenario . . . up to 3190 – 4748 excess deaths will occur each
summer (depending on the GCM
used).” (George Luber, MA, PhD, Michael McGeehin, PhD, MSPH, “Climate Change and Extreme Heat Events,” American Journal of Preventive Medicine, 2008;35(5):429–435, November 2008, p. 431 citing findings in Laurence S. Kalkstein and J. Scott Greene, “An evaluation of climate/mortality relationships in large U.S. cities and the possible impacts of a climate change,” Environmental Health Perspectives, Volume 105, No. 1, January 1997, Table 4 and pp. 90-91)
2070 to 2099. Annual number of heat wave days in Los Angeles projected to increase from 12 days to 44 – 95 days for the period 2070 – 2099. “Analyses of U.S. climate change scenarios through General Circulation Models (GCMs) project that . . . the number of annual heatwave days in Los Angeles, for the 2070 to 2099 time period, will increase from 12 to 44–95." (George Luber, MA, PhD, Michael McGeehin, PhD, MSPH, “Climate Change and Extreme Heat Events,” American Journal of Preventive Medicine, 2008;35(5):429–435, November 2008, p. 431)
Climate experts predict that there is a 50% chance that the average temperature of the world will increase by 5° Celsius (11°F). A 5° Celsius change is the difference between our world today and the world during the last ice age.
— Dr. Steven Chu
U.S. Secretary of Energy
2080 – 2099. Chicago projected to experience a 25% increase in heat waves. “Analyses of U.S. climate change scenarios through General Circulation Models (GCMs) project that, for the period 2080 to 2099, Chicago will experience a 25% increase in the number of heatwaves.” (George Luber, MA, PhD, Michael McGeehin, PhD, MSPH, “Climate Change and Extreme Heat Events,” American Journal of Preventive Medicine, 2008;35(5):429–435, November 2008, p. 431 citing findings in Meehl, Gerald A., Claudia Tibaldi, "More intense, more frequent, and longer lasting heat waves in the 21st century," Science, Volume 305, August 13, 2004, p. 995)
2100. As many as 95 heat wave days and 1400 heat-related deaths projected for Los Angeles by 2100. “A fresh look at California's climate future suggests some profound changes may be coming as global warming takes hold, including extended heat waves in Los Angeles, disrupted ecosystems in the mountains and chaos in California's water-supply system. [In their study, Emissions pathways, climate change, and impacts on California, which was published online Monday, August 16, 2004] in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, the researchers] adapted two of the latest computer models [Parallel Climate Model and Hadley Centre Climate Model, version 3, respectively] of global climate change to determine how California might be affected under two different scenarios -- one optimistic [B1] and one pessimistic [A1fi] -- for emissions of heat- trapping greenhouse gases.
. . .Daily life in Los Angeles already  includes about a dozen ‘heat-wave days’ a year, defined as three or more days in a row when temperatures climb above 90 degrees. Under the worst-case heating outlook, there would be as many as 95 such days by the end of the century , producing about 1,400 more heat-related deaths.” (Carl T. Hall, Chronicle Science Writer, “California - Global warming clouds the future - But experts say it's not too late to cut harmful emissions,” San Francisco Chronicle, San Francisco, California, August 17, 2004 citing findings in (Katherine Hayhoe et al, Emissions pathways, climate change, and impacts on California, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences - PNAS, August 24, 2004, Vol. 101 No. 34, pp. 12422–12427)
(1) Mark Shwartz, communications manager, Woods Institute for the Environment at Stanford University, “Heat waves and extremely high temperatures could be commonplace in the U.S. by 2039, Stanford study finds,” Stanford Report, July 8, 2010 citing findings in Diffenbaugh, Noah, and Moetasim Ashfaq. Intensification of hot extremes in the United States. Geophysical. Research Letters, (in press) DOI: 10.1029/2010GL043888, August 6, 2010
(2) “Kilimanjaro snows melting faster,” The Hindustan Times, February 15, 2006
(3) Thomas L. Friedman, "Green is the New Red White and Blue," and "Energy Crossroads: Building a Coalition for a Clean, Prosperous, and Secure Energy Future," Keynote Address at Memorial Auditorium, Stanford University, Palo Alto, California, Friday, March 2, 2007
(4) Mona Sahlin, Minister for Sustainable Development quoted in John Vidal, environment editor, “Sweden plans to be world's first oil-free economy,” The Guardian, London, England, United Kingdom, Wednesday, February 8, 2006.
(5) Steve Lohr, “The Cost of an Overheated Planet,” The New York Times, December 12, 2006 citing findings reported in Florian Bressand, Diana Farrell, Pedro Haas, Fabrice Morin, Scott Nyquist, Jaana Remes, Sebastian Roemer, Matt Rogers, Jaeson Rosenfeld, Jonathan Woetzel, “Curbing Global Energy Demand Growth: The Energy Productivity Opportunity,” McKinsey Global Institute, San Francisco, California, May 17, 2007, p. 17
(6) “Relentless Heat Threatens Your Health - Kids, elderly are most vulnerable, but experts say simple steps can help,” HealthDay, Wednesday, July 7, 2010 citing data in Chaya T. Merrill, M.P.H., Mackenzie Miller, Claudia Steiner, M.D., M.P.H., Hospital Stays Resulting from Excessive Heat and Cold Exposure Due to Weather Conditions in U.S. Community Hospitals, 2005, Statistical Brief #55, HCUP, Healthcare Cost and Utilization Project, Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, July 2008, p. 2. For more recent Hyperthermia data, search HCUPnet online.
(7) Dr. Steven Chu, U.S. Secretary of Energy, National Clean Energy Summit, UNLV, Las Vegas, Nevada, December 5, 2008
2000 | 2010 | 2013 | 2015 | 2020 | 2025 | 2030 | 2040 | 2050 | 2060 | 2070 | 2080 | 2090 | 2100
Arctic Ice Free | Fire Global Warming | Kilimanjaro Global Warming | Heat Waves Global Warming | Water Shortages | Energy Workforce Shortages
Climate Change Cost | Global Warming Sea Levels Rising | Global Warming Deaths