It is a climatic event that has turned wide swaths of Mexico into simmering ovens, and whose unpredictable behavior is especially disturbing.
Mexico has become the center of attention of meteorologists due to the phenomenon that is behind its significant increase in temperatures: the heat dome.
The heat dome is a climatic event that has turned wide swaths of Mexico into simmering ovens. This phenomenon is more than an isolated event; it is a sweltering atmospheric pattern, a kind of gigantic bubble of hot air that forms under high-pressure conditions. When atmospheric pressure pushes hot air down, it acts like a lid that locks in the heat.
Thus, what is happening in Mexico is more than a temporary heat stroke. In Mexico City, the highest temperature ever recorded was 33.8°C, a milestone that was established in 1998. It is important to contextualize the extraordinary nature of this figure, since we are talking about a city located some 2,200 meters above sea level. In that environment, 34 degrees Celsius is more than just a hot day, it’s a virtually unprecedented level of heat.
But the unimaginable is happening. Last week, the thermometers in Mexico City recklessly flirted with that historic peak. At the same time, in the northern regions of the country, temperatures soared further, well exceeding 40ºC.
ORIGIN OF THE PHENOMENON
First of all, all the evidence points to these heat dome events being intrinsically linked to drastic fluctuations in ocean temperatures. It is a complete domino effect: the water heats the air, this heated air advances towards the interior of the earth and, when it finds itself on land, it is confined by a high pressure system lodged between two masses of increasingly warm water.
It’s like we’re stuck between a rock and a hard place, with the pressure on one side adding to the pressure on the other, and all capped off by a powerful column of air pushing down, creating a sort of atmospheric pressure cooker.
When atmospheric pressure pushes hot air down, it acts like a lid that locks in the heat.
CONCERN BEYOND MEXICO
The heat wave has spread eastward, deep into the waters of the Caribbean and as far as the coasts of Central America, regions that have also experienced intensely sweltering heat.
The unpredictable and capricious behavior of the heat dome is especially disturbing. Sudden changes in ocean temperatures can further aggravate the situation, contributing to the formation of more heat domes and thus more heat waves.
This atmospheric ‘pressure cooker’ has been raging with unprecedented intensity and duration, mostly in the last few decades, which should concern us all. Because these situations are altering and redefining the climatic norms that we have come to consider as stable.
EFFECTS IN SPAIN
In Europe, eyes are concerned with the waters around Spain, particularly those of the Atlantic and the Mediterranean, which have been reaching historically high temperatures.
Are we on the verge of an era in which heat domes will become a permanent feature of our climate? How can we adapt and mitigate these effects? The answers are not yet clear, but it is clear that we need to understand and address this growing climate threat.
Source: National Geographics