June 22, 2012
Five Degree Temperature Increases Expected In Southern California By Mid-Century
Climate change could have a profound impact on Southern California, as the region could be several degrees warmer by the middle of the century, according to a new UCLA study released on Thursday.
The southern part of the state could be three to five degrees warmer in the years 2041 to 2060, though differences between the coast and inland locations and mountainous and desert areas will mean that the heat increase will vary, the Associated Press (AP) reported on Thursday.
The study, which was completed by the university's Department of Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences, applied computerized global climate change models to the local area, they added.
In addition, the UCLA researchers reported that the number of 95-plus degree days "will triple in downtown Los Angeles, quadruple in portions of the San Fernando Valley and even jump five-fold in a portion of the High Desert in L.A. County," Louis Sahagun of the Los Angeles Times reported.
Furthermore, lead researcher Alex Hall told Sahagun that, not only will the number of extremely hot days increase, but that the hottest of those scorchers could result record-breaking highs, potentially topping 113 degrees (the highest temperature ever recorded in Los Angeles).
"The changes our region will face are significant, and we will have to adapt," Hall, an associate professor in UCLA's Department of Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences, said in a statement. "Every season of the year in every part of the county will be warmer. This study lays a foundation for the region to confront climate change. Now that we have real numbers, we can talk about adaptation."
"Longer, harsher heat waves will cause more cases of heat stroke and heat exhaustion - even among otherwise healthy people who believe they're immune - and higher temperatures mean more smog, with consequences for respiratory health as well," added Dr. Richard Jackson, of UCLA's Fielding School of Public Health.
According to the university's press release, the study predicted average temperature change through the middle of the century for all of Los Angeles County, all of Orange County, and parts of Ventura, San Bernardino and Riverside counties (including Palm Springs, Santa Barbara, and Bakersfield). Using the computer model, the research team found that coast areas, including Long Beach, were likely to warm an average of three to four degrees, while downtown L.A. and other urban areas will warm an average of four degrees, and desert areas such as Palm Springs will see average temperature increased of up to five degrees.
"Some of the smallest changes predicted, yet still nearing a 4-degree increase, are in Oxnard (3.68 degrees), Venice (3.70), Santa Barbara (3.73), Santa Monica (3.74), San Pedro (3.78), Torrance (3.80), Long Beach (3.82) and Santa Ana (3.85)," UCLA said. "Among the highest predicted increases are Wrightwood (5.37), Big Bear Lake (5.23), Palm Springs (5.15), Palmdale (4.92), Lancaster (4.87), Bakersfield (4.48) and Santa Clarita (4.44)."
"Southern Californians should expect slightly warmer winters and springs but much warmer summers and falls, with more frequent heat waves. Temperatures now seen only on the seven hottest days of the year in each region will occur two to six times as often. The number of days when the temperature will climb above 95 degrees will increase two to four times, depending on the location. Those days will roughly double on the coast, triple in downtown Los Angeles and Pasadena, and quadruple in Woodland Hills. In Palm Springs, the number of extremely hot days will increase from an annual average of 75 to roughly 120," they added.