What is in this article?:
- Florida researcher: Southeast should prepare for wild weather changes
- Heat waves to become longer
• The Southeast already experiences extreme weather events including floods, droughts, heat waves, cold outbreaks, winter storms, severe thunderstorms, tornadoes and tropical cyclones.
• In the future, these events are likely to become more frequent or more severe, causing damage to most of the region’s agriculture, stressing the water resources and threatening human health,
Heat waves to become longer
• Temperatures exceeding 95 degrees are expected to increase across the Southeast and heat waves are expected to become longer by between 97 percent and 234 percent through the end of the century;
• Sea levels will likely rise by an average of 3 feet by the end of this century. Of particular concern is that storm surges will compound impacts of rising sea levels, Ingram said. People will have to raise existing structures and build new structures on filled soil, he said. Many cities and counties will have to build or refit water and sewer plants so they can survive rising waters caused by floods, Ingram said. Many builders, residents and governments are already doing these things, he said.
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• While the number of tropical storms is projected to decrease slightly, the number of Category 3 to Category 5 hurricanes is expected to increase;
• High temperature stresses in summer will become more frequent and damaging to agriculture, and will possibly drive dairy and livestock production farther north. Warm weather during winter months reduces yields of blueberry, peach and other crops that need cool temperatures for flower buds to break, he said.
• Air quality is projected to decline and pollen counts will go up, damaging human health.
Residents of the Southeast should begin to prepare for the likelihood of more frequent extreme weather events, Ingram said.
With 26 percent of the U.S. population living in the Southeast, the region produces 25 percent of the country’s carbon dioxide emissions, which are partly responsible for the climate change problem, Ingram said.
“We are a significant contributor, but we can help with the solution,” he said.
The Southeast Climate Consortium works with Extension agents and farmers to bring them valuable research.
“We work on how to adapt to or mitigate climate change,” Ingram said.
Some local governments have agreed to reduce carbon emissions, the authors said Tuesday.
Several agencies helped produce the report. They include three NOAA-funded Regional Integrated Sciences and Assessments Centers: the Southeast Climate Consortium, the Carolinas Regional Integrated Sciences and Assessments and the Southern Climate Impacts Planning Program.
Caption: Keith Ingram, director of the Southeast Climate Consortium and an associate research scientist with UF’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, co-wrote and served as lead editor on a new book, “Climate Change of the Southeast United States: Variability, Change, Impacts and Vulnerability,” the most comprehensive look at climate change in the Southeast to date.