Recent droughts and heat waves are happening with greater frequency than in the past, according to a new study from researchers at the University of California, Irvine. When measuring events the period between 1960 and 2010 in the U.S., the researchers from UCI’s Center for Hydrometerology & Remote Sensing found significantly more concurrent droughts and heat waves during the 1990-2010 period as compared to 1960-1980.
For the purposes of the study, published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, heat waves were defined as three to seven days in a row with temperatures in the 90th percentile of the historical record, while droughts were classified as extended periods during which precipitation was 20% or less of the norm. While the researchers did not specifically look into human-caused climate change as part of the study, they do note that an increasein worldwide temperature would naturally raise the probability of events such as heat waves occurring.
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