Mother Nature’s thermostat will jump significantly all across the United States over the next 30 years, and Rhode Islanders could experience more days over 90 degrees, according to a new report.
The First Street Foundation released its peer-reviewed extreme heat model along with the implications highlighted in the 6th National Risk Assessment: Hazardous Heat report, according to a press release Monday. The report identifies the impact of increasing temperatures at a property level, and how the frequency, duration, and intensity of extremely hot days will change over the next 30 years with a changing climate, the news release said.
The analysis uses high-resolution measurements of land surface temperatures, canopy cover, impervious surfaces, land cover, and proximity to water to calculate the current heat exposure, and then adjusts for future forecasted emissions scenarios, the news release said. This allows for the determination of the number of days any property would be expected to experience dangerous levels of heat.
The more precise, climate-adjusted model shows today’s impacts and peers 30 years into the future.
According to the report, the number of Americans who will experience the National Weather Service’s highest threshold for heat, called “extreme danger” (temperatures over 125) will jump from 8.1 million today to 107.6 million in 2053.
Researchers have identified an emerging, concentrated geographic region that they call the “Extreme Heat Belt,” which stretches from northern Texas and Louisiana borders to Illinois, Indiana, and Wisconsin.
Areas such as Maine could see a 10 percent temperature increase that could be as dangerous as a 10 percent increase in Texas, where temperatures could be significantly hotter.
Rhode Islanders experience few days above the 100°F heat index, called “dangerous days,” the report says. But the Ocean State is expected to see an increase in “health caution days” where the “feels like” temperatures are over 90 degrees, which can affect people who are susceptible to hospitalization or death at higher temperatures.
Providence County, Rhode Island’s northernmost county, is expected to see 21 health caution days this year, which could grow to 35 by 2053. The impact of these days is intensified by the duration of the high heat. This year, we have already had a six-day stretch with temperatures in the 90s, from July 4 to July 9.
In 2053, a weeklong stretch of temperatures above 90 will become common.
All of Rhode Island will experience an increase in the number of hot days, the report said. However, Newport County is expected to see the biggest increase — from a week to 17 days — within the next 30 years.