Historic heat wave in Canada caused due to Heat Dome

  • IASbaba
  • July 3, 2021
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Historic heat wave in Canada caused due to Heat Dome

Part of: GS Prelims and GS I – Geography

In news 

  • Recently, the Pacific Northwest and some parts of Canada recorded temperatures around 47 degrees, causing a “historic” heat wave.
  • This is a result of a phenomenon referred to as a “heat dome”.
  • The western Pacific ocean’s temperatures have increased in the past few decades and are relatively more than the temperature in the eastern Pacific.

Phenomenon of heat dome

  • A heat dome is an area of high pressure that parks over a region like a lid on a pot, trapping heat. 
  • The phenomenon begins when there is a strong change in ocean temperatures
  • The gradient causes more warm air, heated by the ocean surface, to rise over the ocean surface (Convection).
  • As prevailing winds move the hot air east, the northern shifts of the jet stream trap the air and move it toward land, where it sinks, resulting in heat waves.
  • This strong change in ocean temperature from the west to the east causes heat dome (HD).
  • HD also prevents clouds from forming, causing more Sun’s radiation to reach the Earth’s surface.
  • They are more likely to form during La Niña years like 2021, when waters are cool in the eastern Pacific and warm in the western Pacific.

Effects of Heat Dome

  • The temperatures of homes rise unbearably high, leading to sudden fatalities, if such homes do not have AC.
  • Damage crops, dry out vegetation and droughts.
  • Rise in energy demand, especially electricity, leading to pushing up rates.
  • Fuel to wildfires, which destroys a lot of land area in the US every year.

What are Jet streams?

  • Jet streams are relatively narrow bands of strong wind in the upper levels of the atmosphere. 
  • The winds blow from west to east in jet streams but the flow often shifts to the north and south.

Pic courtesy: Barrons

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