In comparing present climate to future, the researchers found that heat waves will become more severe throughout the eastern part of the nation. The Northeast and eastern Midwest will experience a greater increase in heat waves than the Southeast, which will almost equalize the temperatures between the future North and current South.
"Currently, the mean heat wave duration is about four days in the Northeast and eastern Midwest and five days in the Southeast," said Fu. "By the end of the 2050s, the Northeast and eastern Midwest will be gaining on the Southeast by increasing two days."
In addition, the Northeast and eastern Midwest are likely to suffer from steeper increases in the severity of heat waves.
"While the Southeast has the highest intensity in heat waves, the northeast is likely to experience the highest increase," said Fu. "We are looking at temperature increases of 3 to 5 degrees Celsius, with New York experiencing the highest hike."
Both the Northeast and Southeast will experience an increase of precipitation of 35 percent or more. Most coastal states will see the greatest increase, of about 150 millimeters a year. Taking into consideration heat waves and extreme precipitation, the Northeast shows the largest increases in precipitation. This suggests a greater risk of flooding.
"It is important that the nation take actions to mitigate the impact of climate change in the next several decades," said Fu. "These changes not only cost moneyabout a billion a year in the U.S.but they also cost lives."
|Contact: Whitney Heins|
University of Tennessee at Knoxville