NRDC: Global warming making heatwaves hotter and more common

NRDC study says heatwaves are becoming more frequent in the U.S. . (Big Stock photo)

NRDC study says heatwaves are becoming more frequent in the U.S. . (Big Stock photo)

If it seems as if summers are getting hotter, they are — at least from the perspective of more days when people are exposed to extreme heat, according to a new study.

Across the country, including New Jersey, climate change is making heat waves hotter and more frequent, according to an analysis by the Natural Resources Defense Council.

Nearly two-thirds of Americans are facing increased extreme-heat days, the analysis found, intensifying health risks associated with severe heat. In New Jersey, 56 percent of the state lives in counties where there is an average of more than nine extreme-heat days, according to the NRDC.

The analysis defines “extreme heat days’’ as June to August days in 2007 to 2016 on which the daily maximum temperature exceeded the 90th percentile calculated from 1961 to 1990 at each weather-monitoring station. In total, 210 million Americans experienced a greater number of extreme-heat days in the past 10 years than in prior decades.

Average temperatures in New Jersey climbed about 3 degrees Fahrenheit since the early 1900s, according to the study. By the end of the century, if high pollution levels from greenhouse-gas emissions continue globally, temperatures are projected to exceed historical records by 10 degrees Fahrenheit.

The most vulnerable populations, which face the biggest health risks, are children and the elderly.

The study suggested the establishment of early-warning systems, cooling centers, and health preparedness plans to reduce problems posed by extreme heat, as well as switching to cleaner sources of energy.

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NJ Spotlight, an independent online news service on issues critical to New Jersey, makes its in-depth reporting available to WHYY.

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