The August numbers are in and NOAA has officially confirmed what we’ve been feeling all summer – it’ been hot, really hot. Overall, the U.S. experienced the fourth hottest summer on record, according to the State of the Climate report released yesterday. The average temperature in August was 75.0ºF – that’s 2.2ºF above the long-term (1901-2000) average. The heat didn’t affect all regions equally. Here in New England, we mirrored the national results with the fourth hottest summer on record. But the southeast saw the warmest summer on record, and the central U.S. it’s third warmest.
Other highlights of the report include
- Every state in New England – EXCEPT MASSACHUSETTS (what’s up with that?) – had their warmest year-to-date period (January-August). Massachusetts still ranked in the top 10% of warmest periods on record.
- The Climate Extremes Index (CEI) for summer 2010 was about 1.5 times its historical average, in part due to a very large area with nighttime low temperatures six times warmer than average (the warmest since 1910) and more than the usual number of days with average to heavy precipitation.
- Based on NOAA’s Residential Energy Demand Temperature Index (REDTI), energy demands related to residential cooling for this summer was at a 116-year record high. August alone ranked eighth.
With that last fact fresh in my brain, an article on Miller-McCune about a new air-conditioning technology really caught my eye. It’s called DEVap (for “desiccant-enhanced evaporative”) cooling. As the name suggests, it’s based on combining evaporative cooling, as in ‘swamp coolers’ that are popular in the hot-dry Southwest, with the use of dessicants – highly water-absorbant substances, like those found in the little “DO NOT EAT” packets you find in some electronics or freeze-dried foods. The result, according to the developers, is an air conditioner that would work equally well in New Mexico’s desert heat or Cape Cod’s balmy humidity … all while using 50-90% less energy than traditional compressor/refridgeration-based systems.
By the time I finished reading the article, I was ready to go buy one of these miraculous-sounding devices (I have no air-conditioning and have regretted that all summer – particularly on those too-hot-to-sleep nights). Unfortunately, they’re still in the prototype stage. It’s likely to be at least two years before they’re available commercially. I’ll be waiting.