What the US will look like if global temperature rises above 1.5 degrees: NPR

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What the US will look like if global temperature rises above 1.5 degrees: NPR

As world leaders gather at COP28, the annual climate change negotiations being held in Dubai this year, one number will be front and center: 1.5 degrees Celsius (2.7 degrees Fahrenheit). This is the amount by which countries have agreed to limit warming by the end of the century.

The world is already dangerously close to this figure. Since the industrial revolution, the planet has warmed by about 1.2 degrees Celsius, mainly due to heat emissions from the burning of fossil fuels. This year is expected to be the hottest on record, with September temperatures reaching 1.8 degrees Celsius above average.

Currently, the world is on track for warming of just under 3 degrees Celsius (more than 5 degrees Fahrenheit) by the end of the century. Although a few degrees of difference may seem small, climate research shows that every tenth of a degree can have a profound effect on the dangers posed by extreme weather.

“We are not destined for a catastrophic climate,” says Deepti Singh, an assistant professor at Washington State University. “We know we can have a more equitable and less volatile future if we limit warming through our actions today. »

Here are three climate impacts that will get significantly worse in the United States if global warming exceeds 1.5 degrees Celsius.

1. With 1.5 degrees of global warming, the United States will warm even faster

When scientists use numbers like 1.5 degrees Celsius to measure climate change, it represents an average of all annual temperatures around the world. This average masks the fact that some parts of the planet are warming faster than others.

In fact, the United States is warming at a faster rate than the global average, meaning the effects of climate change will be more pronounced. This difference is related to how the additional heat is absorbed, as well as regional weather conditions. Generally speaking, warming is occurring more quickly on land and in polar regions.

“The United States has already warmed at a rate higher than the global average,” says Singh. “We are warming at a rate 60% higher than that. »

2. Precipitation increases beyond 1.5 degrees of warming

Hurricanes and tropical storms become more intense as the climate warms, but they are not the only storms affected. Even regular downpours become more extreme.

“Whenever we have heavy precipitation, it’s more likely that it will be even heavier than what we’re usually used to,” says Deanna Here, an assistant professor at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. “So that can mean flooding and other risks associated with these very high rainfall rates. »

Air in a warmer atmosphere can contain more water vapor, which can fuel heavier precipitation. This means that beyond 1.5 degrees Celsius of warming, cities in the Midwest and Northeast will face significantly more water, which can overwhelm storm drains and infrastructure, causing floods. Today, most cities do not design their infrastructure to handle more intense rainfall.

3. Extreme heat is getting worse, meaning more hot days and fewer cold days

Heat waves have disastrous and sometimes hidden consequences in the United States, causing cardiovascular and other health impacts in addition to deaths. Climate science shows they are already becoming longer and more intense.

Nighttime temperatures are also rising, exacerbating the effects of a heatwave. Humans, animals and plants need time to recover from extreme daytime temperatures. Without it, the health impacts and crop losses are even greater.

As the planet warms, winters will also be affected. The number of days below freezing would decrease beyond 1.5 degrees Celsius of warming, particularly in the western mountains. This could alter the snowpack which provides a vital water source for millions of people. Warmer winters can also harm crops and increase vector-borne diseases.

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What the US will look like if global temperature rises above 1.5 degrees: NPR - 1

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Billy Jones

an expert in Apple iPhones, iPads, and MacBooks. With a deep understanding of Apple products, I have been assisting individuals and businesses in optimizing their Apple device experiences for years. Beyond my tech prowess, I am the proud founder of a Global (Expat) Online Gamers Advisory Firm, where I provide guidance and support to fellow gamers worldwide. As a long-time Playstation player, I am currently immersing myself in the world of gaming on the PS5. In addition to my tech and gaming passions, I am an IT professional, an armchair physicist, and a jester at heart, always ready to bring a smile to those around me.