Sep 14, 2023 - News

Climate change turns up the heat in Tampa Bay

Data: Climate Central; Note: A CSI of 3 or higher means human-caused climate change made the average daily temperature at least three times more likely; Map: Kavya Beheraj/Axios

Climate change hit Tampa Bay hard this summer.

Driving the news: Sarasota experienced 66 days with temperatures notably influenced by human-caused climate change in 2023, per a new Climate Central analysis.

  • That's 73% of the season's 91 days. Tampa had 60, meaning 66% of its summer.

Why it matters: Florida is used to heat. But a future full of extreme heat means places like Tampa Bay have to think about how to adjust living conditions.

  • Without the influence of carbon pollution, the extreme heat felt by millions in Florida would have been highly unlikely, research by the nonprofit shows.

What they're saying: Andrew Pershing, the nonprofit's director of climate science, tells Axios that carbon emissions are on track to only make things worse, and the effects will keep worsening unless global carbon emissions get down to zero.

  • "Streaks of unusually warm days are much more likely," Pershing said. "We need to think about how we design our cities and adapt our lifestyles to a world that has more heat like that."

Zoom in: The eastern coast of the sunbelt — from south Texas to southeast Florida — felt the biggest impact, Axios' Alex Fitzpatrick reports.

  • The three U.S. cities with the most hot summer days driven by climate change are San Juan, Puerto Rico (90 days); Victoria, Texas (80) and Lafayette, Louisiana (74).

The big picture: Climate Central published a similar global analysis last week that found nearly half the world's population experienced temperatures made more likely by global warming this summer.

  • Meanwhile, Earth just experienced what was likely its hottest summer on record, with a global average surface temperature about 0.65°C (1.17°F) above the 1991-2020 average for June through August.

What we're watching: The city of Tampa released a Climate Action and Equity Plan over the summer with the goal of reducing carbon emissions, building climate-ready infrastructure and supporting "all people along the way."


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