New Research Blames Climate Change for Current Deadly Heat Wave

By: Julia Mehalko | Published: Jun 20, 2024

A new scientific study released on Thursday has blamed climate change for the current heat wave that much of the United States is currently dealing with.

This heat wave — which has already killed at least 125 people in Mexico — will continue to dominate parts of North America, breaking weather records along the way.

An Ongoing Heat Wave

This specific heat wave began in early May and has so far continued into June. Now, it’s currently over much of the central and eastern parts of the United States.

A person drinking from a water bottle while outside.

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Experts have warned Americans that this heat wave will continue to unleash high heat in many parts of the country. Already, certain states have seen extreme temperatures that have caused health agencies to warn the public to take care of themselves when they go outside.


Climate Change Is to Blame

On Thursday, a new scientific study analyzed this ongoing heat wave. Scientists attached to the study revealed that climate change is to blame for this lingering, deadly heat wave currently over the U.S.

An orange sky seen during sunset.

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According to this study, this heat wave has been made at least 35 times more likely to happen because of human-caused climate change.

Deadlier and Hotter Weather Is in Our Future

This study also pointed out that, as climate change continues, these deadly heat waves will only become more common throughout much of the country.

Many people in a lake during the summer with green trees around in Austin.

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The study’s co-author, Izidine Pinto, said, “Potentially deadly and record-breaking temperatures are occurring more and more frequently in the U.S., Mexico and Central America due to climate change.”

Analyzing a Heat Dome

To understand this ongoing heat wave, researchers took a look at the heat dome that killed at least 125 people in Mexico earlier this year.

A clear plastic water bottle on a surface.

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This heat dome eventually traveled up to the United States, where it now rests. A heat dome occurs when hot air becomes trapped near the ground, which then is further heated thanks to the sun. This results in high pressure of heat lingering in areas, making a type of “dome”.

Breaking Records

The study’s scientists explained that this heat dome is responsible for record-breaking temperatures in various nations this year.

Many people on a beach during the daytime in California.

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The group stated, “Whilst heat domes have a well-known mechanism for intensifying heat waves, these past weeks have seen records broken in both daytime and nighttime temperatures in several countries, including Mexico, Guatemala, Honduras and in the southwestern US.”


Heat Waves Are Becoming Deadlier and More Common

According to these researchers, heat waves are becoming much deadlier — and much more common.

A man wiping his face while outside.

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These types of heat waves are one in four times more likely to happen today than they ever were in 2000. As climate change continues to impact the weather, these heat waves may become increasingly common for much of the U.S.


Record Breaking Temperatures Around the World

While this specific study mainly only focuses on the heat wave that has dominated the U.S. and Mexico, its release comes during a time when much of the world is dealing with record-breaking temperatures.

People riding on boats in water in Austin, Texas.

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Other parts of the world are dealing with their own deadly heat waves. So far, 2024’s May has become the hottest May ever recorded globally. It’s also the 12th month in a row where a hottest month record has been broken.


Weather Disasters Around the U.S.

While much of the U.S. is trying to deal with these rising temperatures, the past few days and weeks have also seen other weather disasters that Americans are struggling to deal with.

A traffic sign underwater during a flooding event.

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Last week, South Florida faced harsh rainstorms that left much of Miami flooded. Scientists have also blamed these fierce rainstorms on climate change, as hot weather can lead to harder rainfalls.


The Season’s First Tropical Storm

Meanwhile, Texas is facing the first tropical storm of the season right around the time southern Texas regions are still dealing with this excessive heat wave.

A tropical storm seen over a beach.

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Texas Governor Greg Abbott has already issued a disaster declaration as this tropical storm aims to hit the south of Texas.


Worldwide Problems

Other areas of the world have faced excessive heat waves, as well. Extreme heat in Saudi Arabia during this year’s Hajj pilgrimage has led to more than 1,000 people dying.

A close-up of a person with sweat on their head.

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This extreme death toll has only increased in a few days — and experts are worried it may continue to do so as people struggle to deal with these incredibly harmful temperatures.


A Warning

Much of this study serves as a warning, according to scientists. As emissions from the burning of fossil fuels remain prevalent throughout the world, deadly heat waves will become normal.

A view of planet Earth seen in black space.

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“The results of our study should be taken as another warning that our climate is heating to dangerous levels,” Pinto explained.