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Hotter, Humid Heat Waves Hit San Diego Coastline

Aired 8/31/12 on KPBS News.

It's not your imagination. Hotter, longer and more humid heat waves have expanded to include coastal neighborhoods.

— Meteorology and climate researchers at Scripps Institution of Oceanography said they’ve detected a local warming trend that could impact grape harvests for wine production, increase energy demands and cause public health issues.

Hotter, Humid Heat Waves Hit San Diego Coastline

The National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences reported California’s prolonged heat wave in 2006 led to a sharp rise in heat-related emergency visits and deaths. It’s a problem likely to grow, said Alexander Gershunov, a meteorologist and climate researcher of the warming trend study.

“It carries implications for 21 million California residences living along the coast where most people are acclimated to moderate temperatures,” explained Gershunov.

Heat waves are defined as temperatures in the warmest 5 percent of summertime conditions.

Gershunov and his team detected the warming trend, characterized by more humid heat waves and elevated nighttime temperatures, that has expanded from interior deserts to county coastlines.

“Our results indicate coastal and desert heat waves will continue to be more common and keep intensifying in coming decades,” said Gershunov.

The research also suggests local climate changes are due to global warming trends.

“Specifically humid heat wave activity in California is related to global warming and to a rise in heat surface temperatures off the coast of Baja California,” Gershunov said.

The Scripps Institution of Oceanography has partnered with the University of San Diego’s Climate Education Partners, an educational project funded in part by a National Science Foundation grant.

The project’s goal is to educate the community, government and local business on the impact of regional climate change and how to adapt.

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