Climate change is making Texas hotter, threatening public health, water supply and the state’s infrastructure
Climate change has made the Texas heat worse, with less relief as nighttime temperatures warm, a report from the state’s climatologist published Thursday found.
Climate data also show that the state is experiencing extreme rainfall — especially in eastern Texas — bigger storm surges as seas rise along the Gulf Coast and more flooding from hurricanes strengthened by a warming ocean, the report says.
Those trends are expected to accelerate in the next 15 years, according to the report, which analyzes extreme weather risks for the state and was last updated in 2019. The report was funded in part by Texas 2036, a nonpartisan economic policy nonprofit group named for the state’s upcoming bicentennial.
The average annual temperature in Texas is expected to be 3 degrees warmer by 2036 than the average of the 1950s, the report found. The number of 100-degree days is expected to nearly double compared with 2000-2018.
“From here on out, it's going to be very unusual that we ever have a year as mild as a typical year during the 20th century,” said John Nielsen-Gammon, the Texas state climatologist who authored the report. “Just about all of them are going to be warmer.”
A hotter Texas will threaten public health, squeeze the state’s water supply, strain the electric grid and push more species toward extinction, experts told The Texas Tribune.
“I was surprised at how strong the upward trend was in the coldest temperatures of the summer,” Nielsen-Gammon said. While global temperature analysis had already shown that trend, he said, it is now very clearly happening on the local level in Texas.
Even this year, which was considered a mild year because Texas didn’t see temperatures above 100 degrees in much of the state, Nielsen-Gammon said nighttime temperatures stayed warm enough to put 2021 in the top 20% of years with the hottest summer nights on record.
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