Colorado, Arizona, New Mexico, and Utah will be ground zero for extreme heat waves if greenhouse gases continue to rise unabated, according to a new study by researchers at Purdue University.
Climate scientist Noah Diffenbaugh and colleagues simulated climate changes for the U.S. in decade-long periods from 2000 to 2039 – and resolved geographic areas down to about 9.6-square-mile (25-square-kilometer) plots, reported the journal Nature.
The study, presented May 26 at the joint assembly of the American Geophysical Union in Toronto, marks the first time that United States temperature extremes have been modeled at such high resolution.
Extreme temperatures are forecast to occur several times each decade, according to the new simulation. “The once-in-50-years event becomes the five-times-in-ten-year event, and in the Western United States it is much higher than that – up to eight times per decade,” Diffenbaugh told Nature.