The West Coast heatwave is killing people and animals. Scientists say that 1 billion small sea creatures have died from these record high temperatures.
Researchers measured the temperatures on shoreline rocks and found them to be as high as 122 degrees. This cooked alive many oysters, muscles and crab, which will significantly harm business for shellfish farmers.
In Sacramento, officials are warning that the river will become so hot that nearly all of the endangered salmon species could be cooked to death in the water.
We already know this heat kills humans too. The final number of heat-related deaths has not been tallied as the heat continues.
What’s causing this?
Scientists say that conditions like this were not expected from weather models until the mid 21st century. They have been studying the point at which the human body cannot survive, called the “wet-bulb” condition. This is the point at which the humidity and heat together make it impossible for sweat evaporation to cool the body.
Wet-bulb occurs when relative humidity is above 95% and temperatures are at least 88 degrees Fahrenheit. Under these conditions, even healthy humans can overheat and die.
This research was supported by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, a government agency. NOAA acknowledges that we have been dangerously close to wet-bulb recently. A recent press release acknowledged that “some locations have already reported combined heat and humidity extremes above humans’ survivability limit.”