50 Million Americans Are Currently Living Under Some Type of Heat Warning
Major cities including Chicago, St. Louis, Washington DC, Nashville, Kansas City, Missouri, Philadelphia and New York could see temperatures soar between 95 and 100 degrees Fahrenheit for at least three days. It will be humid too, with dew points (a measurement of air moisture) more than 70 degrees.
A scorching #heat wave will consume about two-thirds of the country mid to late week into the weekend. About a tota… https://t.co/zbjBJ4WSOl— National Weather Service (@National Weather Service)1563319112.0
"The prolonged duration of the heat and humidity will potentially become dangerous to those most vulnerable," the National Weather Service (NWS) warned.
The forecast comes as the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS) released a report warning that the number of extreme heat days are set to increase over the next few decades if we do not act now to mitigate the climate crisis. The country could get so hot that some days would be "off the charts" of the heat index, the combination of heat and humidity that determines what the weather "feels like."
The index high-point, currently set at 127 degrees Fahrenheit, is now only exceeded in the Sonoran Desert between California and Arizona, according to Newsweek.
According to our newest report, on average nationally, days with a “feels like” temperature above 90° F will double… https://t.co/5YR0Xa16dV— Union of Concerned Scientists (@Union of Concerned Scientists)1563282029.0
"Our analysis shows a hotter future that's hard to imagine today," UCS senior climate scientist Kristina Dahl said in a statement reported by Newsweek.
By the middle of the century, there will be an average of 36 days when the heat index surpasses 100 degrees and 24 days when it rises above 105. By the end of the century, those numbers will rise to 54 and 40 respectively.
Parts of the U.S. are forecast to get a taste of that future in the coming days.
"Friday will be suffocating across much of the eastern U.S. with the heat index 100 degrees to 110 degrees from the Plains to the Great Lakes and the Middle-Atlantic to NYC," BAM Weather meteorologist Ryan Maue tweeted, as USA Today reported.
Friday will be suffocating across much of the Eastern U.S. with heat index 100°-110°F 🌡️from the Plains to Great La… https://t.co/9krgsz8QGH— Ryan (@Ryan)1563283286.0
Around 50 million people were living in areas where some type of heat alert was in place as of Tuesday. Those places included the Plains, the Midwest and parts of the East. More warnings could be issued for other parts of the Eastern U.S. later this week.
There's a very specific reason why this week's heat wave is in line with predictions for how the climate crisis will impact temperature: It's likely that dozens of records will be broken for overnight low temperatures, according to the NWS. As The Washington Post explained, models project overnight lows will rise faster relative to daytime highs as the planet warms. Record-high lows present a real health risk because the body does not have a chance to cool down at night.
Heat is already the deadliest extreme weather event in the U.S., according to The Washington Post.
Sweden's reindeer have a problem. In winter, they feed on lichens buried beneath the snow. But the climate crisis is making this difficult. Warmer temperatures mean moisture sometimes falls as rain instead of snow. When the air refreezes, a layer of ice forms between the reindeer and their meal, forcing them to wander further in search of ideal conditions. And sometimes, this means crossing busy roads.
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By Aaron W Hunter
A chance discovery of a beautifully preserved fossil in the desert landscape of Morocco has solved one of the great mysteries of biology and paleontology: how starfish evolved their arms.
The Pompeii of palaeontology. Aaron Hunter, Author provided<h2></h2><p>Although starfish might appear very robust animals, they are typically made up of lots of hard parts attached by ligaments and soft tissue which, upon death, quickly degrade. This means we rely on places like the Fezouata formations to provide snapshots of their evolution.</p><p>The starfish fossil record is patchy, especially at the critical time when many of these animal groups first appeared. Sorting out how each of the various types of ancient starfish relate to each other is like putting a puzzle together when many of the parts are missing.</p><h2>The Oldest Starfish</h2><p><em><a href="https://www.biorxiv.org/content/10.1101/216101v1.full.pdf" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Cantabrigiaster</a></em> is the most primitive starfish-like animal to be discovered in the fossil record. It was discovered in 2003, but it has taken over 17 years to work out its true significance.</p><p>What makes <em>Cantabrigiaster</em> unique is that it lacks almost all the characteristics we find in brittle stars and starfish.</p><p>Starfish and brittle stars belong to the family Asterozoa. Their ancestors, the Somasteroids were especially fragile - before <em>Cantabrigiaster</em> we only had a handful of specimens. The celebrated Moroccan paleontologist Mohamed <a href="https://doi.org/10.1016/j.palaeo.2016.06.041" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Ben Moula</a> and his local team was instrumental in discovering <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0031018216302334?via%3Dihub" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">these amazing fossils</a> near the town of Zagora, in Morocco.</p><h2>The Breakthrough</h2><p>Our breakthrough moment came when I compared the arms of <em>Cantabrigiaster</em> with those of modern sea lilles, filter feeders with long feathery arms that tend to be attached to the sea floor by a stem or stalk.</p><p>The striking similarity between these modern filter feeders and the ancient starfish led our team from the University of Cambridge and Harvard University to create a new analysis. We applied a biological model to the features of all the current early Asterozoa fossils in existence, along with a sample of their closest relatives.</p>
Cantabrigiaster is the most primitive starfish-like animal to be discovered in the fossil record. Aaron Hunter, Author provided<p>Our results demonstrate <em>Cantabrigiaster</em> is the most primitive of all the Asterozoa, and most likely evolved from ancient animals called crinoids that lived 250 million years before dinosaurs. The five arms of starfish are a relic left over from these ancestors. In the case of <em>Cantabrigiaster</em>, and its starfish descendants, it evolved by flipping upside-down so its arms are face down on the sediment to feed.</p><p>Although we sampled a relatively small numbers of those ancestors, one of the unexpected outcomes was it provided an idea of how they could be related to each other. Paleontologists studying echinoderms are often lost in detail as all the different groups are so radically different from each other, so it is hard to tell which evolved first.</p>
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