Nearshore Americas

More Extreme Heat is Coming to Central America: Climate Scientists

Extreme weather events, such as the heat wave that claimed over 125 lives in Mexico this year, are projected to increase in frequency in Central America and the US Southwest, according to a study by the World Weather Attribution (WWA), a network of climate scientists.

Heat waves shattered historical records in Belize, Guatemala and Honduras during a five-day period in June this year. Scientists have warned that such heatwaves are now four times more likely than they predicted in the year 2000.

A half-degree rise in global temperatures since the year 2000 has significantly impacted the frequency of extreme heat. Back then, five-day maximum temperatures in May-June were expected only once every 60 years. Today, with warmer climate, such heat waves are projected to occur about four times more often, or roughly every 15 years.

The hottest five-day period across the region in June was estimated to be 1.4°C warmer due to climate change.

“Potentially deadly and record-breaking temperatures are occurring more and more frequently in the US, Mexico, and Central America due to climate change,” said Izidine Pinto, a WWA member.

Heatwaves have caused droughts in many regions of Mexico and wildfires in California. In Mexico, the situation is worsened by an ongoing water crisis in several states. In Costa Rica, the lack of water has caused a  decline in hydropower generation.

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Nighttime temperatures are another cause for concern. Scientists highlight the severe health consequences when nighttime heat prevents people from getting adequate rest.

To address this imminent crisis, the WWA suggests several key measures, particularly for Central American countries. These include reducing reliance on fossil fuels, improving essential infrastructure and increasing green spaces.

Narayan Ammachchi

News Editor for Nearshore Americas, Narayan Ammachchi is a career journalist with a decade of experience in politics and international business. He works out of his base in the Indian Silicon City of Bangalore.

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