New Yorkers sweating through this month’s heat wave can blame the oceans — a cool patch of water off the Pacific coast of Peru, more than 3,500 miles away (5,632 kilometers), and near-record warmth offshore in the Atlantic. The cause and effect is a reminder that climate change’s toll is coming due.
The cold water across the equatorial Pacific is locking in place two high pressure systems — reservoirs of heat — at either end of the continent. These weather patterns, also called ridges, promote heat and dry out the land beneath them. At the same time, the Atlantic Ocean is feeding its warmth onto the land, adding to heat that is already fixed across the U.S.