SAN FRANCISCO (KRON) – Remember a few weeks ago when the Bay Area got to experience that nasty heat wave that sent temperatures soaring well into the triple digits for some?
If no action is taken on climate change, researchers say the Bay Area along with the rest of the state could endure 7 weeks or more a year when it “feels like” temperatures exceed a whopping 105°.
That’s according to a new report from the Union of Concerned Scientists, which warns that more potentially deadly heat waves could make their way toward the Bay.
“The U.S. is poised to see a staggering expansion of the frequency and severity of extreme heat,” said Kristina Dahl, senior climate scientist.
In the report titled “Killer Heat in the United States: Climate Choices and the Future of Dangerously Hot Days,” researchers analyzed four different heat index thresholds – above 90°F, above 100°F, above 105°F, and “off the charts” in three time frames – historical, midcentury, and late century.
Dahl says while Florida is poised to get the worst of it, California and specifically, the nine-county Bay Area will also see impact.
“In Alameda County we have historically seen 11 days per year above 90, by mid-century that will triple to over 30 days and by the end of the century we will see 60 such days,” she said.
The report includes California in the U.S. Southwest region group, which would see an average of 35 days a year with a heat index above 100°F, and 10 “off-the-charts” days per year by the end of the century if no action is taken to reduce global warming emissions.
“Off-the-charts” means it’s so hot that the conditions exceed the upper limit of the National Weather Service heat-index scale, making it incalculable.
In California, the report says there have been 40 days per year on average with a heat index above 90°F.
That would increase to 68 days a year on average by midcentury and 92 by the century’s end if no action is taken on climate change.
By the end of the century, an estimated 5.1 million people in the state would endure “off-the-charts” heat days for the equivalent of a week or more per year.
Researchers say nearly everywhere in the world people will experience more days of dangerous heat even in the next few decades.
“In order to contain this extreme heat, we must rapidly and aggressively reduce or reliance on fossil fuels,” Dahl said. “[And] get our energy from cleaner sources like solar and wind power and use that clean energy to power our trucks cars and buses.”