New report warns of hotter days in CT
Connecticut’s cities and suburbs are facing a much warmer — and more dangerous — future as temperatures across the U.S. rise due to climate change and dirty emissions.
Some areas could endure five months a year when the “feels like” temperature exceeds 105 degrees, according to a new report by the Union of Concerned Scientists.
“Our analysis shows a hotter future that’s hard to imagine today,” said Kristina Dahl, a senior climate scientist and co-author of the report
“Nearly everywhere, people will experience more days of dangerous heat even in the next few decades,” Dahl said.
The report warned that without global action to reduce heat-trapping emissions, the number of days a year when the heat index exceeds 100 degrees Fahrenheit would more than double from historical levels, to an average of 36 days across the country by mid-century and a four-fold increase to 54 days by late century.
The number of days that would feel hotter than 90 degrees in Fairfield County would increase from 15 days today to 49 days by mid-century and 80 days by the late portion of the century.
New Haven County would experience a similar rise, from 12 days today to 75 days by the end of the century.
The projections grow even worse.
Over 100 degree days would rise in Fairfield County from once a year to 18 days a year by mid-century and 41 days by the end of century.
New Haven and Hartford Counties would see 15 days over 100 degree days by mid-century and about 35 days at the end of the century.
The average number of days per year nationwide with a heat index above 105 degrees would more than quadruple to 24 days by mid-century and 40 by late century, the study said.
What do do
The report says extreme heat days can be reduced by “a rapid transition” to a clean energy economy with zero-carbon energy resources to help limit the worst impacts of climate change.
“The best ways to avoid the worst impacts of an overheated future are to enact policies that rapidly reduce global warming emissions and to help communities prepare for the extreme heat that is already inevitable,” said Astrid Caldas, senior UCS climate scientist.
“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,” Caldas said.
The Trump administration withdrew from the Paris Climate Agreement and its global limits on Greenhouse Gas emissions, although most of the world’s industrial countries remain in the pact.
The administration has also weakened clean air and water regulations and is intent on rolling back higher auto emission and mileage standards.
A number of states, including Connecticut, are suing the federal Environmental Protection Agency in an effort to reverse those changes.
In the U.S., so-called “off-the-charts” heat days now occur only in the Sonoran Desert — located on the border of southern California and Arizona — where historically fewer than 2,000 residents are exposed to a week or more of severe conditions a year.
But the report notes that by mid-century “off-the-charts” conditions would extend to other parts of the country, impacting regions with more than 6 million people a week or more on average.
By late century the trend could increase to regions with more than 118 million people — or where one-third of the U.S. population lives.
Fairfield County would see the largest increase in extreme heat days, according to the report.
The rest of the New England would be impacted to varying degrees. But the trend is clear — the entire region and the Northeast U.S. will experience a very different and much hotter climate, the report warns.
That would impact everything people now take for granted — water supplies, agriculture, forests, fish and wildlife.
Makes pollution worse
Extreme heat intensifies some types of air pollution, such as ground-level ozone, which can cause additional health problems for vulnerable people, the report said.
A report last April by the American Lung Association gave all eight Connecticut counties an F for ozone pollution. The “State of the Air 2019” report ranked metropolitan areas based on ozone and particle pollution between 2015 and 2017.
Often called smog, ozone pollution attacks lung tissue by reacting chemically with it. When ozone is present, other harmful pollutants can be created.
The USC report comes as Connecticut prepares for its latest heat wave of the summer. Temperatures are expected to rise above 90 later this week, peaking on Saturday with a heat index between 105 and 110 degrees.
The Northeast Regional Climate Center says July’s average temperature are already several degrees above normal.