Metro Atlanta gets its fair share of hot days above 90 degrees and the occasional 100-degree day, but things could get much hotter more often if no action is taken on climate change, according to a new report by the Union of Concerned Scientists.
A new interactive map published by the advocacy group explores the number of extreme heat days for each county in the United States in the coming decades, if nothing is done to reduce the effects of climate change.
Temperatures have been rising globally, “but we wanted to know what that meant for people’s everyday lives,” Erika Spanger-Siegfried, the lead climate analyst with UCS, said.
The project calculated the number of days above 90, 100 and 105 degrees by the middle of the century and at the end of it specific to each U.S. location.
“We ran the analysis without any real expectations of what we were going to find and we were shocked, We didn’t expect the changes to be this soon and this stark,” Spanger-Siegfried said.
What shocked scientists, she said, were the steep increases across the entire Sunbelt, with rapid expansion of days above 105 degrees.
For Fulton County, for example, the report predicts the number of days above 100 degrees to grow from currently 5 to 44 by the middle of the century, with 21 of those days reaching temperatures of above 105 degrees.
But with bold climate action, especially around emissions, the number of extremely hot days could be lower, the UCS says.
“If we do invest in reducing heat trapping emissions, heat is one of those climate impacts that is most responsive,” Spanger-Siegfried said
Lowering carbon dioxide in the atmosphere results in less extreme heat, she said.
The peer reviewed report was published in the Journal Environmental Research Communications.