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Can't stand the heat? It may be time to try

Published July 31, 2008 at 4:42 p.m.

Brady, a puggle (Pug and Beagle), pants to keep cool while on a walk with his owner Meghan Snihur at Washington Park on Thursday.

Photo by Chris Schneider

Brady, a puggle (Pug and Beagle), pants to keep cool while on a walk with his owner Meghan Snihur at Washington Park on Thursday.

Haven't liked Denver's heat wave?

Get used to it, warns an atmospheric scientist.

Denver's record-setting 19 consecutive days of 90-plus heat, and its record low through July of 3.28 inches of moisture, both are consistent with predictions that excessive heat and dry spells will be more common in the future in the American West.

The previous record of 18 consecutive 90-degree days was set a long time ago - in 1874 and tied in 1901. But half of the longest hot streaks - 10 days or more - in Denver's history came in the first nine years of the 21st century, National Weather Service statistics show.

"It's been very dry throughout much of the West," Kevin Trenberth, of the National Center for Atmospheric Research in Boulder, said Thursday.

"One of the things global warming does is add a little bit of extra heat that goes into that drying," said Trenberth, who was lead author of one chapter of last year's International Panel on Climate Change report and shares a piece of this year's Nobel Peace Prize.

When it's dry, the sun's heat can go directly toward making people miserable, rather than using some of its energy to re-evaporate the water on the ground.

Any good news?

Well, it's probably a bit hotter at Denver International Airport, where the native grasses are brown, than in most neighborhoods of metro Denver, where sprinklers are keeping the grass green, Trenberth said.

"Everyone is watering their lawns, and a little bit of the heat may have gone into evaporating the water," he said.

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