Threat Of Extreme Heat In South Florida by 2036 Accelerates Calls For Action On Climate Change

Jul 22, 2019

As parts of Florida deal with record temperatures this month, regular triple-digit weather may become a way of life for Floridians in the foreseeable future.  A recent study by the Union of Concerned Scientists concludes Florida will soon experience life-threatening, scorching temperatures for about a quarter of the year.

It’s not the type or frequency of hot days that are common in Florida. Even as Florida hit record temperatures last month, there are typically only about two dozen days with a heat index in the triple digits. But the number of scorching days could jump to 105 by mid-century.

The peer-reviewed study, titled Killer Heat in the United States: Climate Choices and the Future of Dangerously Hot Days, was published earlier this month in the journal Environmental Research Communications. It used data from 18 different models that forecast temperature and humidity in cities with a population of over 50,000 people.

Researchers break down the triple digit days by location. For example, Miami would experience 134 days over 100 degrees. Tampa would have 121, Orlando 106, Jacksonville would experience 106 triple digit days a year. Miami

Kristina Dahl, a climate scientist for the Union of Concerned Scientists says the health impacts of extreme heat may be widespread. “When we look at these different heat index thresholds, we see an increasing proportion of the population becoming susceptible to heat-related illnesses,” Dahl told The Florida Roundup.  “Those illnesses can range from things like heat exhaustion and heat cramps, which are relatively mild, all the way up to heatstroke, which often requires hospitalization and can even be fatal.”

The extreme heat would disproportionatly impact young children and elderly adults, as well as people who work outdoors and are in the direct sun and heat.

To stem the tide of potententially deadly heat, researchers suggest taking active measures to move away from carbon emitting power sources.  “As a major contributor to this problem, the U.S. has a responsibility to also be a major contributor to the global solutions,” said Dahl.

Florida is predicted to be the state most impacted by climate change, and the DeSantis administration is taking some action to deal with climate-related issues. The governor is hiring a Chief Resiliency Officer to prepare the state for the economic, environmental, and physical impacts of climate change.

But the most aggressive changes in the state are taking place at the local level.  “Governments like in South Florida,are involved in the Southeast Regional Climate Change Compact,” says Amy Green, Environmental Reporter for WMFE. “I reported in Central Florida on a similar new collaboration of government coming together to plan for sea level rise, heat, and other issues that impact Florida.”