This heat wave has broken thousands of temperature records. Climate Central reported Satuday, “In many cases, records that had stood since the Dust Bowl era of the 1930s have been equaled or exceeded, and this event is likely to go down in history as one of America’s worst.”
In general, we expect the greatest number of temperature records to be set during a widespread drought. I explained why that is that the case in my Nature article last year on “The next dust bowl” (full text here):
Warming causes greater evaporation and, once the ground is dry, the Sun’s energy goes into baking the soil, leading to a further increase in air temperature. That is why, for instance, so many temperature records were set for the United States in the 1930s Dust Bowl; and why, in 2011, drought-stricken Texas saw the hottest summer ever recorded for a US state.
Why is this bad news? Because the Earth has warmed only a bit more than 1°F since the catastrophic Dust Bowl — and we are poised to warm an astounding 9-11°F this century if we stay anywhere near our current greenhouse gas emissions path.
Much as our current monster ...