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NASA Studies LA Weather: Extreme Heat Will be the Norm

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Los Angeles annual average temperatures from 1878 to 2008

"The bottom line is that we're definitely going to be living in a warmer Southern California," said Bill Patzert, a NASA Jet Propulsion Lab climatologist and oceanographer who co-authored a study that examined Los Angeles' daily temperature data for a hundred year period.

What they found was that "the number of extreme heat days (above 90 degrees Fahrenheit in downtown LA) has increased sharply over the past century," the study's summary explains. "A century ago, the region averaged about two such days a year; today the average is more than 25. In addition, the duration of heat waves (two or more extreme heat days in a row) has also soared, from two-day events a century ago to one- to two-week events today."

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"Summers as we now know them are likely to begin in May and continue into the fall. What we call 'scorcher' days today will be normal tomorrow," Patzert continued. "Our snow pack will be less, our fire seasons will be longer, and unhealthy air alerts will be a summer staple... We'll still get the occasional cool year like this year, but the trend is still towards more extreme heat days and longer heat waves."

But what's causing this? The obvious answer is global warming, but that wouldn't be correct.