Scientists at Johns Hopkins University in the US have shown how drought can exacerbate the impact of heatwaves by raising temperatures to record highs. The results of the study, revealing the cause of the extreme weather event, are published in the journal Geophysical Research Letters.
Scientists analyzed climate modeling and satellite imagery to determine the relationship between drought and heat waves in the June 2021 heatwave in the US Southwest. The drought raised the temperature by an average of about half a degree, but in some areas, especially in the forested area, it was four degrees Celsius higher for a whole week. Increasing temperatures, in turn, exacerbated water scarcity in arid conditions.
Climate change is expected to exacerbate extreme weather events, including prolonging heat waves. There is also growing concern among scientists about more complex events, where two or more severe weather events occur at the same time, amplifying each other to record levels. Thus, the likelihood of severe droughts, heat waves and large-scale fires increases, which, together with each other, can cause serious damage to people and ecosystems.