The increase in extreme heat is a direct result of a warming planet. As you can see in the animation below, even a small increase in average temperature creates a large change in our extreme temperatures. What was once considered a rare, exceptionally hot day is now becoming more common. Heat waves are getting hotter and longer and record high temperatures are outpacing record low temperatures. Since the 1980s, there have been three daily record highs for every two record lows set in the U.S.
Extreme heat has a negative impact on health and the economy, raising the risk of heat-related illnesses like heat stroke and heat exhaustion. It is also the leading cause of weather-related fatalities in the U.S. Extreme heat is associated with air stagnation, which traps pollutants and can trigger respiratory illnesses such as asthma. Extreme heat stresses crops and food supplies, worsens drought, and raises the demand for air conditioning — increasing cooling costs and straining the electric grid.
Resources for covering extreme heat:
Simply enter the name of your city, town or hamlet — or any place in the Lower 48 that piques your curiosity — to see how the number of days above summer temperature thresholds will change throughout the rest of the century.
Summers around the world are already warmer than they used to be, and they’re going to get dramatically hotter by century’s end if carbon pollution continues to rise. That problem will be felt most acutely in cities.
Climate Central has developed a new tool that brings the reality of future heat to hometowns across the U.S. Includes interactive.