Aug 18, 2022 - News

Iowa expected to suffer heat as high as 125°F by 2053

Note: Shaded counties are those that will, on average, have 0.5 days or more at or above a 125F° heat index in 2053; Data: First Street Foundation; Map: Axios Visuals

A new study reveals the emergence of an "extreme heat belt" from Texas to Iowa, with days that feel like 125°F at least once a year by 2053, writes Axios' Andrew Freedman.

Why it matters: Most of Iowa falls under this belt, which could result in increased hardships, such as higher energy consumption and more health risks like heat stroke.

Driving the news: As average temperatures increase due to human-driven greenhouse gas emissions, mainly from the burning of fossil fuels, instances of extreme heat are forecast to escalate.

  • A hyperlocal report released Monday by the nonprofit First Street Foundation makes clear where households will be vulnerable to what would now be considered almost unheard-of heat indices.

Threat level: The report, which is based on First Street's peer reviewed heat model, shows the number of Americans currently exposed to "extreme heat" — defined as having a maximum heat index of greater than 125°F — is just 8 million.

Yes, but: Due to the anticipated warming during the next three decades, that number is expected to balloon to 107 million people.

Zoom in: In Des Moines, a "hot day" is considered anything that feels like 103ºF.

  • The 50311 zip code is expected to reach seven "hot days" this year. But due to climate change, that's expected to double to 15 days by 2053.

The big picture: In just 30 years, climate change will cause the Lower 48 states to be a far hotter and more precarious place to be during the summer.

What's next: Communities are innovating to reduce the impacts of extreme heat and put in place better heat action plans, among other climate resilience steps.

Go deeper: An "Extreme Heat Belt" will soon emerge in the U.S., study warns


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