The Tracker's first daughter and her husband plus three kids are visiting us in Berkeley. They live in Orange County south of LA. She mentioned how muggy the weather down there has been. That has to be an exception to the rule, I thought.
Oh no no no no no. It can't be, mustn't be, but maybe she's on to something. Word from the brainy climate researchers at Scripps Institution of Oceanography is that California's Mediterranean climate - blessed by rainless warm summers that also are LOW IN HUMIDITY, is trending toward Gulf Coast-type muggy awfulness. Heat waves are commonplace and one is resigned to seeing more of them most places, but around here we've just about always gotten a cool night in the dry air - which lets heat radiate easily into space - to give us a break. We're not full-on sticky yet but this means maybe we're getting closer.
Leaping on the story at Reuters, Steve Gorman starts right off, "Bouts of extreme muggy heat lasting for days, once rare in California, are becoming more frequent and intense." And due to what? High on the suspect list: Climate change. More specifically to warmer waters off Baja California. Resulting humidity can blow our way and set up a feedback loop intensifying and prolonging heatwaves. Nevada's getting hit, too. So they say at Scripps.
First out of the gate may have been the San Diego NPR station KPBS, where reporter Ed Joyce got a brief report out on it. LiveScience also has a non-bylined write-up that provides additional source comments and context.
The news had, it seems, been floating around. The fresh press release (see Grist below) reports that the researchers' paper was published late last month. It started as a study of a record-breaking 2006 nighttime heat wave and wound up with broad conclusions arising from study of 60 years worth of climate data and trends. It was in on line edition of the Journal of Climate.