How Much Hotter Your Town Is Going to Get by the End of the Century

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iStock

Most of us are well aware that climate change means that the world is going to get a lot warmer in the coming years. It’s already toasty—2017 was one of the hottest years on record, and the top four hottest years have all occurred since 2014. (And 2018 is poised to knock 2014 off the list as the fourth-hottest year.)

It’s hard to picture what this means, though, other than that we’ve all been sweaty. A new interactive graphic from The New York Times makes it easy to understand, for better or for worse. It allows you to plug in your hometown and birth year to see how many average days per year the temperature has reached 90 degrees throughout your lifetime. And then it projects how many of those extra-hot days will occur each year, on average, for the rest of the century.

Say you were born in Los Angeles in 1985. That year, the LA area was projected to experience around 55 days of 90°F or higher. Today, that number has climbed to 67 days a year. By the time you reach 80 years old, there will likely be 81 to 99 of those extra-hot days.

To get a sense of how climate change will affect younger generations, consider the plight of someone born in LA in 2000. That year, LA could expect 59 days a year of 90°F weather. By the time that person reaches age 80, they can expect to see an average of up to 103 days a year of that weather. Yeesh. And it will be worse for places that already experience a lot of hot weather. Someone born in New Delhi in 2000 can expect to experience an average of up to 243 days a year of 90°F or higher weather. That’s two-thirds of the year. It will be especially awful in tropical locations. By the end of the century, Jakarta, Indonesia will be 90°F or higher for almost the entire year.

It’s hard to do the graphic justice without experiencing the interactivity for yourself, so go ahead and play with it over on the Times website. But instead of weeping, take action.

There Could Be Hundreds of Frozen Corpses Buried Beneath Antarctica's Snow and Ice

Prpix.com.au/Getty Images
Prpix.com.au/Getty Images

Scientists and explorers take a number of risks when they travel to Antarctica. One of the more macabre gambles is that they'll perish during their mission, and their bodies will never be recovered. According to the BBC, hundreds of frozen corpses may be trapped beneath layers and layers of Antarctic snow and ice.

“Some are discovered decades or more than a century later,” Martha Henriques writes for the BBC series Frozen Continent. “But many that were lost will never be found, buried so deep in ice sheets or crevasses that they will never emerge—or they are headed out towards the sea within creeping glaciers and calving ice.”

In the world’s most extreme regions, this is not uncommon. For comparison, some estimates suggest that more than 200 bodies remain on Mt. Everest. Antarctica's icy terrain is rugged and dangerous. Massive crevasses—some concealed by snow—measure hundreds of feet deep and pose a particularly serious threat for anyone crossing them on foot or by dogsled. There’s also the extreme weather: Antarctica is the coldest, driest, and windiest place on Earth, yet scientists recently discovered hundreds of mummified penguins that they believe died centuries ago from unusually heavy snow and rain.

One of the most famous cases of a left-behind body on Antarctica dates back to the British Antarctic Expedition (also known as the Terra Nova Expedition) of 1910 to 1913. British explorer Robert Falcon Scott and his four-man team hoped to be the first ones to reach the South Pole in 1912, but were bitterly disappointed when they arrived and learned that the Norwegian explorer Roald Amundsen had beaten them to it.

On the return trip, Scott and his companions died of exposure and starvation while trapped by a blizzard in their tent, just 11 miles from a food depot. Two of those bodies were never found, but the others (including Scott’s) were located a few months after their deaths. Members of the search party covered their bodies in the tent with snow and left them there. The bodies have since travelled miles from their original location, as the ice grows and shifts around them.

Other evidence suggests people landed on Antarctica decades before Scott’s team did. A 175-year-old human skull and femur found on Antarctica’s Livingston Island were identified as the remains of a young indigenous Chilean woman. No one yet knows how she got there.

Accidents still happen: After coming close to completing the first solo, unaided traverse of Antarctica, British adventurer Henry Worsley died of organ failure following an airlift from the continent in 2016. Most modern-day polar visitors, however, have learned from past missteps.

[h/t BBC]

How Waffle House Helps Measure the Severity of a Natural Disaster

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iStock

There are a lot of ways the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) assesses and addresses the severity of a natural disaster. Meteorology can predict movement patterns, wind gusts, and precipitation. Resources are dispatched to areas hit hardest by torrential weather.

But when the agency needs an accurate, ground-level gauge for how a community is coping during a crisis, they turn to Waffle House.

Since 2004, FEMA has utilized what former administrator Craig Fugate called the “Waffle House Index.” Because the casual dining chain is open 24 hours a day, seven days a week, tracking to see if a location is closed or working with limited supplies can help inform the agency as to whether affected areas are ailing or taking steps toward normalcy.

“If a Waffle House is closed because there's a disaster, it's bad,” Fugate told NPR in 2011. “We call it red. If they're open but have a limited menu, that's yellow ... If they're green, we're good, keep going. You haven't found the bad stuff yet.”

For FEMA, the ability to order a plate of smothered and covered hash browns is an important analytic. If a Waffle House is having trouble getting stock, then transportation has been interrupted. If the menu is limited, then it’s possible they have some utilities but not others. If its locations have locked their doors, inclement weather has taken over. The chain’s locations would normally stay open even in severe conditions to help first responders.

The company has opened a Waffle House Storm Center to gather data in anticipation of Hurricane Florence, a Category 2 storm expected to touch down in the Carolinas this week. But not all locations are taking a wait-and-see approach. One Waffle House in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina has already closed due to the looming threat, making it the first red dot on the Index.

[h/t CNN]

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