By Justin Hopkins

Hello, weather Fans! In this week’s blog let’s discuss this summertime heat and how seasons change!

The change of seasons. 

Let’s take a moment to discuss the changes in seasons. As we enter summer, you may notice the days getting longer because of the earth orbiting the Sun. The Earth rotates on a tilted axis of 23 degrees. This tilt causes the seasons to change as the Earth orbits around the Sun.

When the Earth is tilted toward the Sun, it receives more radiation, resulting in summer!! The Sun is at its highest point on June 21st because the Northern Hemisphere is tilted towards it. In winter, the Northern Hemisphere is tilted away from the Sun. The Sun’s high angle during summer allows the land and seas to absorb more heat. The Earth’s seasons are determined by its tilt, not a change in the orbit.

The July 4th weekend is here, and summer is just getting started. Temperatures are expected to be in the upper 80s and 90s. Did you know that heat is the number one killer among extreme weather events? That’s right, heat. This summer, the National Weather Service (NWS) introduced a new tool called Heat Risk. It can predict heat-related illnesses over a 24-hour period. With that being said, is it getting hotter? What are other expert scientists and data saying?

Via (NCEI) National Centers for Environmental Information

Via (EPA) Environmental Protection Agency 

When reviewing current data trends from the NCEI and EPA, we can see that annual temperatures are significantly hotter. In the first chart, in May 2024 global mean surface temperatures are consistently above average for 14 consecutive months. The second image shows the annual average temperature over the United States increasing, using the 1901-2000 averages as a baseline. Both graphs indicate that after the 1970s, temperatures have increased. The hottest decade was from 2014-2023, and the hottest year has been 2023. This data is collected from surface weather stations and buoys. The rise in temperatures is due to the constant trapping of greenhouse gasses and more infrastructure being built.

What causes a heat wave?

In the summertime, an area of high pressure usually at the mid-levels of the atmosphere forms and creates a heat dome due to the jet stream being further northward. With the sun’s high angle and cumulative heating during the summer months, high temperatures begin to occur in June and August. High pressure pushes air downward and traps the heat trying to escape, creating a heat dome. This can lead to something called a heat wave. A heat wave is a prolonged period of hot weather with temperatures above normal. The data down below gives us a clear picture that Heat waves are occurring more often in the U.S., especially in urban areas.

Via (EPA) Environmental Protection Agency

In conclusion, current data trends indicate a yearly increase in temperatures both in the U.S. and globally. It is crucial to exercise caution on days that are forecasted to be very hot and humid, as extreme heat can have serious health implications. Therefore, it is important to develop innovative ways to manage the heat. One approach to mitigating the impact of urban heat islands, areas where buildings and concrete absorb and retain heat, is by planting more trees and using lighter colors for roads and buildings. These measures can help reduce temperatures in cities compared to rural areas.