How has this historic heatwave impacted the people and ecosystems of the region?
The Pacific Northwest of the United States experienced a Heatwave. The highest temperatures on record this summer in 2021. Often referred to as the “heat dome”, this region was marked by an exceptionally warm and oppressive weather pattern. That caused temperatures to soar far above seasonal averages in parts of the northwestern United States. Here, we take a closer look at the causes and impacts of the 2021 Pacific North-West heatwave.
What Caused the Heatwave?
This phenomenon occurs when the high-pressure systems in the atmosphere become stagnant for an extended period of time. Trapping warm air in the region below it and causing temperatures to spike.
In the case of this particular heatwave, the high-pressure system was located in the east and cut off cool air from the Pacific Ocean, preventing it from entering the region. Results of the warm air was trapped beneath it. Creating ideal conditions for extreme heat.
The impacts of the Pacific Northwest heatwave were widespread, affecting both humans and nature alike.
- Heatwave: Extremely high temperatures created dangerous conditions for people across the region, leading to a rise in heat-related illnesses.
- The lack of cooling ocean breezes made it unbearable for many to be outside, leading to a decrease in outdoor activities.
- Increasing temperatures caused an increase in air conditioner usage, leading to potential power outages in some cities.
- Higher temperatures led to the accelerated melting of the region’s glaciers.
- Dry conditions and high temperatures caused an increase in the risk of wildfires. Leading to an increase in smoke in the air.
- Higher temperatures also led to more frequent and intense stormy weather, causing flooding in some areas.
The 2021 Pacific North-West heatwave was an unprecedented event that caused widespread impacts on humans and nature alike. The heatwave is a reminder of the risks of climate change. It also presented an opportunity to learn more about weather phenomena and the effects of extreme weather on our environment.