When a sustained region of high pressure traps heat over an area, this phenomenon is known as a heat dome. The heat dome can extend over a number of states and remain in place for several days or weeks, subjecting the people, crops, and animals that live below it to oppressive conditions that feel like they are being baked in an oven.
The behavior of the jet stream, which is a band of strong winds high in the sky that typically moves from west to east, is typically related to the formation of heat domes.
In a typical scenario, the jet stream will follow a wavelike pattern, first wandering north, then south, and then back up north. The larger these meanders in the jet stream develop, the slower they move, and there is a possibility that they will become immobile. When this happens, heat domes have a chance to form. When the jet stream makes a sharp turn to the north, the air in the atmosphere sinks as it accumulates. The air warms up as it descends, and the decrease in humidity that occurs as a result of the air’s descent helps to keep the sky clear. Because of this, the sun is able to produce increasingly scorching conditions close to the ground.
It is possible for the air near the ground to warm up considerably more if it travels over mountains and then falls. This downslope warming was a significant contributor to the extremely high temperatures that were recorded in the Pacific Northwest during a heat dome event in 2021. At that time, the state of Washington established a new record high temperature of 120 degrees Fahrenheit (49 degrees Celsius), and temperatures in British Columbia, Canada, reached 121 degrees Fahrenheit, breaking the previous Canadian record by 8 degrees Fahrenheit (4 C). The influence of humans
Heat domes often stick around for several days in any one region, but they can remain there for much longer if necessary. They are also capable of moving, so affecting surrounding places over the course of a week or two. The heat dome that was responsible for the heat wave that struck the United States in June of 2022 moved eastward over time.
On extremely rare occasions, the heat dome may remain for a longer period of time. This occurred in the southern Plains in 1980, when high summer temperatures caused as many as 10,000 people to perish over the course of several weeks. It occurred over a large portion of the United States during the years of the Dust Bowl, which occurred in the 1930s.
The persistent weather pattern that fosters the formation of a heat dome typically brings with it decreased wind speed and an increase in relative humidity, both of which have the potential to have devastating effects on people. Because of both of these characteristics, the heat will seem even worse, and it will become more dangerous because the human body will not be able to cool itself as effectively by sweating.
By indicating what the temperature will feel like to the majority of people, the heat index, which is a combination of both the heat and the humidity, is frequently employed to convey this hazard. Additionally, excessive humidity limits the amount of cooling that occurs during the night. People who do not have access to air conditioning may be unable to cool off during the warm evenings, which raises the risk of heat-related illnesses and even death. Because to climate change, average temperatures have already begun to rise.
One of the worst recent examples of the impacts of a heat dome with high temperatures and humidity in the United States occurred in the summer of 1995, when an estimated 739 people died in the Chicago area over the course of five days. [Citation needed] [Citation needed] [Citation needed] [Citation needed] [Citation needed] [Citation needed
William Gallus, an expert in atmospheric science at Iowa State University and a professor there
This story first appeared on The Conversation and has been reprinted here under a Creative Commons license. Read the article in its original format.