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Oklahoma hot streak persists, as carbon dioxide levels surge

 hot-looking orange sun

For most of the last year, Oklahoma’s monthly temperatures have hovered above average. Now that it’s summer, Oklahomans are feeling the heat.

The Emergency Medical Services Authority’s first 2024 heat alert in Oklahoma City went out on Thursday after paramedics responded to five heat-related calls in one day. Two patients were transported to the hospital for treatment.

May was a little less sweltering in Oklahoma City, with an average temperature of 71 degrees. But that was still 2.6 degrees hotter than the historic average. According tothe National Weather Service in Norman, that makes May the state’s ninth above-average month out of the last 10.

Oklahoma is part of a larger national trend in the Southwest United States. The National Weather Service issued excessive heat warnings for California, Arizona, Nevada, and southern Texas last week. This heat dome is expected to bring temperatures that are 20 to 30 degrees hotter than normal for early June.

This long hot spell comes at the same time as a peak in the atmosphere’s carbon dioxide levels. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration announced last week that May saw the Northern Hemisphere’s highest ever recorded carbon dioxide levels.

Carbon dioxide is a greenhouse gas that traps heat when energy from the sun enters the atmosphere. This natural process warms the Earth and prevents the planet from having inhospitable, freezing temperatures. But the burning of fossil fuels releases mass amounts of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, and the planet is warming at unprecedented rates.

NOAA also said its data indicate that carbon dioxide concentrations increased more rapidly in the first four months of 2024 than any other year.

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Anusha Fathepure is a summer intern at KOSU as part of the Inasmuch Foundation's Community Fellowship Class.
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