Climate change will bring more days of sweltering heat to the northeast
A new study from Dartmouth College has revealed that there will be far more record heat across the Northeast in the coming decades. According to the researchers, by the year 2060, the hottest day of the year could be multiplied by 23 at the current rate of greenhouse gas emissions.
Of the rural Northeast counties represented in the study, those in the lowest income brackets are expected to be hit the hardest. Compared to wealthier counties, these communities will be disproportionately affected by increases in extremely hot days.
“In other words, by the middle of this century, every year counties with the lowest income in the Northeast will experience more than two decades worth of our current hottest day. Our findings agree with other climate change studies that have found increasing heat extremes and higher maximum daily temperatures across this region in the future,” explained study lead author Professor Jonathan Winter.
The research was focused on rural counties in the Northeast from Maine to West Virginia with populations of 250,000 or less.
“Our projections suggest that climate change adaptation strategies in the rural Northeast should emphasize developing resilience to heat waves, such as increasing access to public spaces with air conditioning and improving health care responses to emergencies initiated or exacerbated by heat,” said Professor Winter.
“This is especially important for counties in the lowest income quartile, who will be especially vulnerable to extreme heat events due in part to their growing populations.”
In addition to the higher frequency of daily heat events in the Northeast, daily extreme precipitation is projected to increase by 15 to 20 percent based on different greenhouse gas emissions scenarios.
Meanwhile, the incidence of daily extreme cold events will substantially decrease. The average coldest daily temperature recorded from 1976-2005 will only occur once every four or five years by 2046-2075.
The study is published in the journal Annals of the American Association of Geographers.
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