More days of dangerous heat: How climate change has affected Alabama

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November 11, 2021
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More days of dangerous heat: How climate change has affected Alabama

The latest United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report is yet another reminder of the dire effects of climate change. While climate projections often look to the future when discussing the worst impacts of climate change, we are in fact already experiencing its effects across the United States. To better understand how climate change is impacting the country, Stacker compiled a list of the impacts of climate change in every state, using local and national news stories, government reports, and scientific journal articles.

While these impacts are weather-related—for example, heat waves, droughts, or storms—individual weather events cannot be attributed to climate change on their own. Rather, it is when these events are seen within larger trends that they can be understood as part of a pattern that has come out of the changing climate.

Keep reading to learn about how your state has been impacted by climate change, or read the national story here.

Alabama: More days of dangerous heat

Temperatures have been rising in Alabama, and thanks to climate change, they sometimes reach dangerous levels. Currently, Alabama experiences around 15 days of dangerously high temperatures each year, which is defined as a heat index above 105 F. Given the current trends, Alabama could experience up to 70 of these days per year by 2050, endangering more than 160,000 people in the state who are most vulnerable to extreme heat.

Across the country, there are trends of rising temperatures, storms of increasing frequency and severity, and more erratic precipitation patterns, causing disruptions to the food systems and sometimes even resulting in death. While the U.S. government has set a target to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by at least 50% by 2030, it is clear that the climate emergency is already taking place, and along with emissions reductions, mitigation of the impacts of climate change must be prioritized as well.

Read below to see how other states in your region have been affected by climate change.

Mississippi: Ecosystem imbalance in the Mississippi National River and Recreation Area

Like most places, the Mississippi National River and Recreation Area is also being impacted by climate, with rising temperatures and roughly 20% more precipitation. This has an important impact on the wildlife, as warmer temperatures make it easier for pests like mosquitos and deer ticks to survive the winter. Native species may not be able to withstand the new temperatures. Instead, they could get pushed out by non-native species moving northward to escape the heat, such as the white-footed mouse and Virginia opossum.

Tennessee: Flash floods

In August 2021, parts of Tennessee were hit by record-breaking amounts of rainfall that caused unexpected flash flooding, killing at least 21 people. In less than 24 hours, 17 inches of rain fell in Humphreys County. While a single weather event alone can't be definitively attributed to climate change, a federal study found that climate change doubles the chances of these types of heavy downpours taking place.

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