When I was going to bed last night, it was so hot and humid I had to check the weather. It was 27˚C, or F 81. At 1.30 am.
According to research from the Exact Science faculty in the University of Buenos Aires, 27˚C nights in the city used to occur once every 20 years in the middle of the XX century, whereas at the end they began occurring once every 5 years. It’s difficult to find reliable information on the actual frequency of this now (the Argentine National Meteorology Service has the most obscure website imaginable), but this last summer nights have surely felt 27˚C more than once. Some afternoons of January and February have felt extenuating.This is not being called just ‘weather’ or a bad summer: Buenos Aires climate, the mild temperate that gave birth to the fertile pampas, seems to be turning tropical.
So says Osvaldo Canziani, a physicist and doctor in meteorology who was co-participant in the Nobel Peace Prize 2007 as a member of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. He has been interviewed by every major newspaper imaginable, commenting on how average temperatures are changing.
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In conversation with Spain’s El Mundo, he said: “In the past 100 years, the average temperature in the city has rose 1.8˚C. But more significant is the rise of 2.7˚C in minimal temperatures from 1962 on. If we take into account that since 1962 rainfall has increased 20%, there’s no error margin; we can conclude we’re witnessing a radical change in the city’s climate.”
The same article states this has been Buenos Aires’ hottest summer on record, though that doesn’t seem like something you can say when the season is not over yet.
Canziani said in another interview he compared climate data from Rio de Janeiro in the 1950s and with Buenos Aires' data from the past years. They were very similar.
In order to prevent negative consequences, the city government is taking some measures: keeping the coast of the river in control, improving the city’s draining system (since massive floodings are common in Buenos Aires when heavy rain falls) and maintaining a meteorology alert service. They’re also alerting people of the growing population of dengue-transmitting-mosquitos, according to La Nacion newspaper.
Fair to note is the fact that what’s happening to Buenos Aires falls exactly in line with the IPCC’s predictions of climate change consequences in Latin America four years ago. And no matter how prepared one is to understand these facts theoretically, feeling almost faint in the middle of the day from the heat, knowing this could be not just a bad summer day, is quite unsettling. Heat is happening in the rest of the country as well.
And drought, even though it’s attributed to La Niña. Lack of rain in the pampas has lowered the expectations for this season’s soy and corn yields: from an estimate of 52 million tons of soy and 30 million tons of corn, they went down to 47 and 22 million.