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Getting Hotter - Faster - In The West

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If it feels like Las Vegas summers are getting hotter and hotter, it's because they are getting hotter and hotter.

Las Vegas, which is known for its heat waves, is having what seems like an extended heat wave.

According to the Weather Channel, the high temperatures will be in hundreds at least for the next ten days.

A new analysis by The Weather Channel and the organization, Climate Central, says seven of the eight fastest warming cities are in the West. 

Reno, Phoenix and Las Vegas (in that order), the study says, are leading the way.

Alyson Kenward is one of the authors of the analysis, titled, "Hot and Getting Hotter: The Top 25 Hottest and Fastest-warming Cities."

Kenward is a senior scientist at Climate Central, which researches the impact of climate change.

She told KNPR's State of Nevada that part of the problem is how much added cement and asphalt has been put down, while vegetation has been pulled up as cities in the Southwest have exploded in population. 

“I think what’s going here is you have increased urbanization in some of these fast growing cities in the West, especially… over the last 50 years,” Kenward said.

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Cement and asphalt hold onto heat longer, while the trees and shrubs keep things cooler. The growth is only part of the picture, according Kenward. She said the growth is against the "backdrop of warming as a whole" around the world."

“One of the things that you’re seeing is that on average temperatures are warming and so your extremes are also warming and that’s really what we’re feeling,” she said.

Kenward was also clear about the cause of the problem: greenhouse gas emissions.

“Well certainly there are warming cycles and there are cooling cycles that are natural on earth, but what we’ve experienced over the last half century is really unprecedented,” she said.

Kenward said unless greenhouse gas emissions are dialed back, "we’re absolutely going to continue to see warming summers and more extreme temperatures going forward."

Guests

Alyson Kenward, senior scientist, Climate Central, 

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