Climate Change Impact on India and World – International Reports, Key Observations, etc.

What is the ‘Heat Dome’ causing record temperatures in USA?


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Heat Dome

Mains level: Rising events of heatwave

A US city has recorded the highest temperatures as high as 46-degree Celsius part due to the historic heatwave that lasted as a result of a phenomenon referred to as a “heat dome”.

What is a Heat Dome?

  • To understand what causes a heat dome, one should liken the Pacific Ocean to a large swimming pool in which the heater is turned on.
  • Once the heater is on, the portions of the pool close to the heating jets will warm up faster and therefore, the temperature in that area will be higher.
  • In the same way, the western Pacific ocean’s temperatures have increased in the past few decades and are relatively more than the temperature in the eastern Pacific.
  • This strong change in ocean temperature from the west to the east is what a team of scientists believe is the reason for the heat dome.
  • This occurs when the atmosphere traps heat at the surface, which encourages the formation of a heatwave.
  • To compare, the reason that the planet Venus is the hottest in the Solar System is that its thick, dense cloud cover traps the heat at the surface, leading to temperatures as high as 471 degrees Celsius.

Is this heat wave a result of climate change?

  • It cannot be said for sure if the heatwave is a direct result of global warming.
  • Scientists are usually wary of linking climate change to any contemporary event mainly because of the difficulty in completely ruling out the possibility of the event having been caused by some other reason.
  • Similarly, scientists who have been studying the climate tend to agree that the heat waves occurring today are more likely to be a result of climate change for which humans are responsible.

Answer this PYQ in the comment box:

Q.Consider the following statements:

  1. Jet streams occur in the Northern Hemisphere only.
  2. Only some cyclones develop an eye.
  3. The temperature inside the eye of a cyclone is nearly 100C lesser than that of the surroundings.

Which of the statements given above is/are correct?

(a) 1 only

(b) 2 and 3 only

(c) 2 only

(d) 1 and 3 only

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