Culture 3 min read

U.S. Could Experience Extreme Heat in Coming Decades

Image courtesy of Shutterstock

Image courtesy of Shutterstock

A new study revealed that people living in the United States could experience extreme heat in the coming decades. Researchers predicted that if nothing is done to curb climate change, Americans could be exposed to “off-the-charts” heat conditions measuring 127 degrees Fahrenheit or higher.

“This study shows that the frequency of and population exposure to extreme heat index conditions in the US will increase substantially by mid-21st century under a range of emissions and population change scenarios,” researchers from the Union of Concerned Scientists concluded in their paper published in the journal Environment Research Communications.

Kristina Dahl, one of the co-authors of the report and senior climate scientists at UCS expressed her surprise upon learning “how steeply and quickly the number of days of dangerous heat increased in such a short time.”

“I don’t think anyone appreciated how quickly conditions can change.”

Parts of U.S. to Feel Extreme Heat

According to the research, parts of Florida and Texas would likely experience days when the heat index exceeds 100 degrees Fahrenheit. The scientists predict that the number of these scorching days will more than double nationally by mid-century. In fact, some days are projected to be so hot it would be rendered incalculable.

Erika Spanger-Siegfried, the lead climate scientists at UCS, said:

“We have little to no experience with ‘off-the-charts’ heat in the U.S. These conditions occur at or above a heat index of 127 degrees, depending on temperature and humidity. Exposure to conditions in that range makes it difficult for human bodies to cool themselves and could be deadly.”

In the next 20 years, the Southeast, Southern Great Plains, and Midwest would reportedly experience days of extreme heat. Then, in the following decades, parts of the 47 American states would also be affected by the same severe condition.

“By late century, depending on the scenario, these changes amount to a 4- to 20-fold increase in person-days per year of high heat index conditions from 107 million historically to as high as 2 billion.”

At the moment, our planet’s chance of recovering from the effects of climate change is bleak. But, if nations who signed the Paris Agreement would honor their pledges and cut their carbon emissions, it could make a huge difference.

When asked about what else could we do, Astrid Caldas from UCS has this to say:

“Rapidly reduce global warming emissions and help communities prepare for the extreme heat that is already inevitable. Extreme heat is one of the climate change impacts most responsive to emissions reductions, making it possible to limit how extreme our hotter future becomes for today’s children.”

Read More: Climate Change Is Driving Coral Reefs Away From The Equator

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Chelle Fuertes

Chelle is the Product Management Lead at INK. She's an experienced SEO professional as well as UX researcher and designer. She enjoys traveling and spending time anywhere near the sea with her family and friends.

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