Study Shows Extreme Heat Increasing in the Southwest

Oct 27, 2017

The Southwest is experiencing record-high temperatures for this time of year. A new study predicts things could only get worse in the coming years. KNAU’s Ryan Heinsius reports.

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The study by the National Resources Defense Council found the frequency and intensity of the very hottest summer days has increased in recent years because of climate change. More than 90 percent of Arizona’s population now experiences at least nine days of extreme heat annually. Five counties, including Mojave and Pima, endure more than two weeks. The study also predicts the state’s average temperature could increase 13 degrees by the end of the century.

Kim Knowlton, a senior scientist at the NRDC, says that’ll create a significant public health crisis.

"Scientific studies have shown that as temperature rise so do the numbers of heat-related illnesses, emergency room visits, and premature deaths. Heat is the number one extreme weather killer in the U.S.," she says.

According to the Arizona Department of Health Services, more than 120 people die in the state every year on average because of severe heat. The NRDC worries those deaths will increase rapidly in the coming decades if global carbon emissions aren’t cut and the U.S. pulls out of the Paris Climate Accord.