Summers are getting hotter.
This summer tied with summer 2016 as the hottest on record in the northern hemisphere, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
In Nevada, August broke a record for most consecutive days over 105 degrees.
In Reno, the Western Regional Climate Center monitors climate and extreme weather events. Tim Brown is director of the center.
“We have data that goes back to around 1895 or so, across the West, and there is a clear trend that there has been warming really for the past century or so,” Brown said.
Brown said Nevada has warmed two degrees Fahrenheit since the start of the 20th Century. He also said that Reno and Las Vegas are two of the fastest-warming cities in the country.
Brown said that warming is already having widespread impacts around the state, including on wildfires, infrastructure, ranching and farming. Despite some of the obvious impacts, Brown said it is really difficult to say when the state would become unlivable.
The best course of action is to cut down on the greenhouse gas emissions driving climate change but to also look at adaption.
“What we have to do, I think, is learn to adapt in these environments, mitigate against these kinds of impacts where we can and be able to create resilient communities so that we can recover quickly should an event happen,” he said.
And while climate change is making the western United States hotter and drier, it is also increasing the number of wet weather events, Brown said because a warmer atmosphere has more energy in it.
“In the winter, with all the global connections of climate, these events called atmospheric rivers can just stream in to the Sierra and cause, in some cases if its cold enough, a lot of snow but in other cases it can be a warm system and you can wind up with rain on top of that snow,” he said.
Brown said it is very possible that Nevada will experience the two extremes of climate change.
(Editor's note: This discussion originally aired September 2019)
Tim Brown, director, Western Regional Climate Center