New climate tool shows Utah’s record heat a result of climate change

Jul 18, 2022, 7:00 PM
dangerous heat study...
According to KSL meteorologist Kristen Van Dyke, the month of September didn't just break the record for being the hottest month in Salt Lake City, it shredded it. (Canva)

SALT LAKE CITY — Some climate scientists say Sunday’s record heat was not a random weather event, nor was it just the dog days of summer. They say it was an effect of climate change, according to a new climate tool.

A new climate tool

A New Jersey non-profit called Climate Central just developed what they call a Climate Shift Index, which measures how likely it was that any weather event is an effect of extra carbon pollution.

“We were able to say that temperatures you experienced yesterday (Sunday) in the Salt Lake City area were three times to, in some places, more than five times more likely due to climate change,” said Andrew Pershing, director of climate science for Climate Central.

A video on Climate Central’s website explains how the index compares the weather on any given day, in any given area, against the temperatures with a warmer planet.

“The Climate Shift Index compares how often a given temperature will occur in our current climate, with the frequency of that temperature in climate without global warming,” the video states.

Sunday’s high was 107 degrees in Salt Lake City. Sunday overnight’s low into Monday was 79 degrees.

The Climate Shift Index gave Sunday’s high temperatures in parts of northern Utah a score of 5. That is the highest possible, on the index, as seen in this dark red portion selected from the date of July 17.

Pershing said the warming trends at night in Utah are an even bigger signal.

“Where you’re in the 70s and 80’s at night, like that’s super unusual,” he said.

Be prepared

These warm temperatures, he says, is how climate change is showing up for us Utah, and will continue.

He suggests that Utah needs to take note to be prepared, with everything from our are homes to our energy grids.

“The buildings that you live in, do you have adequate air conditioning to deal with heat like that that’s going to become more persistent and more common,” he said.


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New climate tool shows Utah’s record heat a result of climate change