In recent days, Brazil has faced an intense heat wave that has led to historic temperature records in several states. Meteorologists and climate scientists point to a phenomenon called a “heat dome” as the main reason for this unusual heat, influenced by global factors such as El Niño and climate change. In this article we will explore in detail what a heat dome is, how it is formed and what its implications are for the climate and temperatures in Brazil.
The heat dome
The heat dome is also known as atmospheric blocking and is a phenomenon that creates a sort of “bubble” of warm air in the atmosphere, preventing other weather events, such as rain or cold fronts, from occurring and ends up functioning as if it were a sort of pot lid, which tends to prevent the heat accumulated inside the pot from dissipating.
This mass of hot air circulates vertically, from top to bottom, and has difficulty dissipating due to the high atmospheric pressure that pushes it towards the Earth’s surface. As it descends, it undergoes a compression process, generating even more heat. This high atmospheric pressure setup works as a barrier, preventing clouds from entering and increasing the incidence of sunlight. In a spring and summer scenario, when solar radiation is more intense, this contributes to higher temperatures and drier conditions.
While weather blocking is common in the Southeast and Midwest regions during the winter, it is unusual for it to persist for many days, as it currently does. The heat dome can last longer than normal, intensifying its effects.
Although this is a phenomenon that has already occurred on other occasions, the current heat wave has been influenced and amplified by external factors, such as climate change and El Niño, characterized by an increase in temperatures in the surface waters of the Pacific Ocean, modifying the climate in different regions of the planet, including Brazil.
When this phenomenon occurs, it is difficult for the rainy season to begin in the Amazon and in the Central-West of Brazil. This, combined with deforestation, fires and inadequate land occupation, creates ideal conditions for droughts and heatwaves, with the warmest winter in the Southern Hemisphere contributing to the current scenario.
Future prospects: warmer and less rain?
Weather projections indicate a possible significant change in rainfall patterns in Brazil. Currently, a “corridor” connects the Amazon to the southeast, bringing moisture to the region, especially during spring and summer. However, a gradual change in this pattern is observed, with the rain moving further south.
Experts underline that, if all these factors are combined with deforestation, the modification of spring areas and native vegetation, phenomena such as the thermal dome tend to amplify. This raises concerns about the frequency and intensity of heat waves in Brazil, with potential negative impacts on agriculture, water resources and public health.
Facing the heat dome, Brazil faces significant challenges, ranging from record temperatures to changing precipitation patterns. The combination of natural phenomena and human influence on climate conditions highlights the need for preventive and adaptation actions.
It is essential that public policies are aligned with climate projections, promoting sustainable practices, deforestation control and adaptation measures. Furthermore, raising public awareness of the importance of preserving the environment and finding innovative solutions to mitigate the effects of climate change are essential.
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Source: Olhar Digital
Emma Smith is a thought-provoker and a writer at Run Down Bulletin. With a talent for crafting compelling arguments, she provides insightful and thought-provoking coverage of the most pressing opinion