The coming climate crisis

Let’s go back to your point about people taking their cues from the weather—what are scientists watching the weather for now?

We look at the Big Three:

Heat and “mega–heat” waves. And we’re watching the air-pollution issues that are related to higher temperatures, like ozone levels. Those are known to cause health problems.

Heavy rainfall. As we warm the planet, we also increase the risk of heavy downpours. A warmer atmosphere holds more moisture, and as a result, we’re seeing an increase in very-heavy-rainfall events. Here’s a map of these observed increases from the 2009 “Global Climate Change Impacts in the United States” report.

Drought. We’re watching Florida and Georgia with great concern, as they head into a prolonged drought. Texas may finally be pulling out of this drought. But of course, drought will continue to be an intensifying problem for the Southwest. According to the U.S. Drought Monitor, parts of every state except for Alaska and Ohio are either abnormally dry or in some form of drought.

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