High Heat and More of It — and More Insects, Fewer Trees

DaysAbove_sacramento

The term “extremely hot” means different things in different places … . A reading of 100°F is rare in Madison, Wis., but on the other hand, in Phoenix 100°F days are not rare at all. These days, 115°F is considered an extremely hot day there. The mercury matches or tops that scorching number only about once a summer; but by 2100, more than 53 are projected. By contrast, a generally cooler city like Madison gets about 10 days at or above 90°F each year, so the temperature threshold there is lower. By 2100, Madison is expecting more than 67 days of 90°F-plus temps.

The graphic shows your city’s extremely hot threshold: the number of days that temperature is matched/topped on average during the period 1986-2005, and the number times that temperature is expected to be reached/topped by 2050 and by 2100. This assumes there’s no significant cutback in greenhouse-gas emissions.

Hot and more of it…

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And it’s not just the maximum heat…

Phoenix set a record high temperature of 115°F at 1:32p.m. on Thursday afternoon. Then, 43 minutes later, it set another as the temperature gauge at Sky Harbor International crept up again to 116.

Yuma, Arizona tied its record high of 117 for this date, and nearby Tacna hit 120.

Arizona hasn’t just been suffering high maximum temperatures — it’s the high minimum temperatures too. Thursday set a record high minimum temperature of 93, up from the previous record of 90 set back in 2006. “We have not dropped below the 90 degree mark since Tuesday morning, if you can believe that,” said Dr. Matt Pace of Phoenix’s NBC 12 News.

“More people die from heat than any other weather event,” Dr. Bob England, director of the Maricopa County Department of Public Health, told the Arizona Republic.

Think Progress

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And if the heat isn’t enough there are the insects…

New research from North Carolina State University shows that urban “heat islands” are slowly killing red maples in the southeastern United States. One factor is that researchers have found warmer temperatures increase the number of young produced by the gloomy scale insect — a significant tree pest — by 300 percent, which in turn leads to 200 times more adult gloomy scales on urban trees.

Gloomy Scale

Gloomy Scale

“We’d been seeing higher numbers of plant-eating insects like the gloomy scale in cities, and now we know why,” says Adam Dale, a Ph.D. student at NC State and lead author of two papers describing the work. “These findings also raise concerns about potential pest outbreaks as temperatures increase due to global climate change.”

Gloomy scales suck sap from trees, removing nutrients and energy. This reduces tree growth and can eventually kill trees.

Science Daily

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