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Study: LA Region Will Get Hot, Hot, Hot

Climate change predictions that are 2,500 times more precise than previous studies show rising temperatures for the greater Los Angeles area.

Study: LA Region Will Get Hot, Hot, Hot

The Los Angeles area will heat up over the next 50 years, with more 95-plus degree days in store, said a new UCLA report compiled with forecasting models generated by a supercomputer. 

The study, which contains data 2,500 times more detailed than previous studies, predicts weather patterns from 2041 to 2060.

It shows that the number of days with temperatures exceeding 95 degrees will increase.

By mid-century, the number of days with "extreme heat"— temperatures above 95 degrees—will triple in downtown Los Angeles, and quadruple in the San Fernando Valley. Desert communities are predicted to experience five times the number of days over 95 degrees.

The hottest days are likely to break records, said Alex Hall, lead researcher on the study by UCLA's Institute of the Environment and Sustainability. The current record high for downtown is 113 degrees, set on Sept. 27, 2010. Temperatures are predicted to rise 3.7-5.4 degrees across the region by 2050. The hottest days will likely be in the summer and the fall.

"Every season of the year in every part of the county will be warmer," Hall said. "This study lays a foundation for the region to confront climate change. Now that we have real numbers, we can talk about adaptation.''

The study titled "Mid-Century Warming in the Los Angeles Region," which was done with a supercomputer, contains the most precise predictions for how climate change will affect the Los Angeles area's micro climate zones—deserts, coastal areas and mountains. The micro climates are just 2 1/4 square miles.

“This is the best, most sophisticated climate science ever done for a city,” said UCLA Professor Paul Bunje, executive director of UCLA’s Institute of the Environment and Sustainability Center for Climate Change Solutions. “Nobody knew precisely how to adapt to climate change because no one had the data—until now.”

The city of Los Angeles commissioned the $500,000 study, which was paid for by the U.S. Department of Energy.

“UCLA’s model projects climate changes down to the neighborhood level, allowing us to apply the rigor of science to long-term planning for our city and our region,” said Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa in a statement. “With good data driving good policies, we can craft innovative solutions that will preserve our environment and quality of life for the next generation of Angelenos.” 

A main concern the study reaffirms is the sustainability of Los Angeles' water resources. The region is dependent on snowfall and precipitation in the local mountains. Another study on local water resources will be released in the fall, and another study on snowpack in the Sierra Nevada range will come out in the summer of 2013.

Another regional concern is the risk of heat stroke and other heat-related maladies.

“Higher temperatures bring higher health risks,” says Dr. Richard Jackson of the Fielding School of Public Health at UCLA. “Longer, harsher heat waves will cause more cases of heat stroke and heat exhaustion—even among otherwise healthy people who believe they’re immune—and higher temperatures mean more smog, with consequences for respiratory health as well.”

This report was compiled with information from City News Service.

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