Global Warming Coud Bring Extreme Temperature Swings — And Poor Countries Could Be Hardest Hit : Goats and Soda Global warming has so far seen a gradual rise in average temperatures. But that may change, with extreme variations. And poor countries could bear the brunt of it.
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A Temperature Roller Coaster Could Be Coming

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A Temperature Roller Coaster Could Be Coming

A Temperature Roller Coaster Could Be Coming

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DAVID GREENE, HOST:

All right, it's been pretty cool this year in many parts of the country. You might know that firsthand. This, of course, is even though other parts of the world are warmer than usual. Now, scientists say this is normal. There are always natural ups and downs, even though the planet overall is warming. But new research suggests that temperature swings in coming decades could get more extreme. Here's NPR's Christopher Joyce.

CHRISTOPHER JOYCE, BYLINE: Climate scientists say the warmer the earth gets, the more extreme the weather can get - bigger hurricanes, heavier rainfall. And apparently, it also means temperature may vary more than it used to. Sebastian Bathiany at Wageningen University in the Netherlands says it has to do with moisture in the soil. Soil moisture has a kind of Goldilocks effect on local temperature, keeping it not too hot and not too cold.

SEBASTIAN BATHIANY: And when you have drier conditions, then the temperature fluctuations are not buffered as much anymore, so you can have larger temperature variability.

JOYCE: But Bathiany says if the planet continues to warm, temperature variability will be especially pronounced in the tropics - wet places where a warming climate is drying things out. The research appears in the journal Science Advances. Bathiany says that this temperature roller coaster will have its biggest effect in some of the world's most-vulnerable countries.

BATHIANY: They are not only poorer to deal with the impacts, but in this case, also, the impacts will be worse.

JOYCE: Worse because temperature variation in places like Europe and the U.S. is not dependent so much on soil moisture. In fact, variability may actually go down in these regions, but with one notable exception. Summertime in the U.S. could see more temperature extremes. Extremes, in fact, seem to be part of what a warmer world will bring. Another recent study found that California will see more extreme wet and dry periods this century. They're calling that the whiplash effect of global warming. Christopher Joyce, NPR News.

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