If you like a hot, dry climate - warmer than even conditions prevalent in Utah during recent weeks - stick around.

"The Phoenix climate will be here in 10 to 15 years," says climatologist Gail Bingham.Bingham, a Utah State University associate professor of soil science and biometeorology, said the "greenhouse effect," a common topic of conversation because of this year's heat and drought, is very real. Research shows, he said, that climatic conditions will move northward by about 5 degrees per decade.

"The scary thing for a state like Utah, which is on the edge of being habitable because of the amount of water that falls, is that we're right on the tipping edge. We've seen what this place looks like in the past few years when we get too much rain. But we can be in a real world of hurt if we tip the other way and get just a little dry," said Bingham.

The greenhouse effect is the term used to describe the impact of gases such as carbon dioxide, methane and freons on the atmosphere.

The gases prevent heat from escaping the Earth, and in fact, radiate it back to Earth, "like a plastic or glass cover you put over a greenhouse," Bingham said. Carbon dioxide released from burning fossil fuels is the worst culprit.

Bingham says this year's dry, hot weather is not the sudden result of the greenhouse effect. Carbon dioxide concentration in the atmosphere has nearly doubled since the 1880s, the beginning of the Industrial Revolution.

Scientists have devoted more than 20 years of intense study to the patterns of world temperature and carbon dioxide levels to understand how the greenhouse effect is working.

Bingham is involved in the study. He is investigating where carbon dioxide goes after it is burned and released into the atmosphere.

"We built a fast-response sensor that can fly on an airplane over oceans or forests to measure how fast those surfaces are taking up carbon dioxide," he said.