Indiana could experience an increasing number of extreme heat days over the next 30 years, impacting the state’s heat-related illness rates and seasonal energy costs.
The term extreme heat is defined by the National Weather Service as days when the heat index reaches over 125 degrees.
A recent study by the First Street Foundation found that most Indiana counties will continue to see increases in hot days, with the southern portion of the state set to see the largest increase in so-called extreme heat days. Martin, Harrison and Clark counties are expected to see the largest increase.
This phenomenon is not unique to Indiana. An Extreme Heat Belt is expected to extend from the northern borders of Texas and Louisiana through Iowa, Illinois and Indiana.
Hoosiers could likely pay up to $69 million more overall for air conditioning costs after a recent study shows Indiana will face an increasing number of extreme heat days due to the warming effects of greenhouse gas emissions. In this photo, Marlon Jackson (right), an HVAC technician for five years, works with Mark Ridgeway, owner of M&B Heating & Air Conditioning in Fishers, to troubleshoot a heat pump at a home in Fishers, Indiana. on Friday November 16, 2018. Ridgeway, an HVAC technician with 43 years of experience, started his own business a year and a half ago.
What is causing the heat?
According to a 2020 study by Earth, Atmospheric and Planetary Sciences, climate change caused by greenhouse gases is a driving factor behind the increasing number of days of high or extreme heat in the 21st century. Urban development and population growth also contribute to the increasing number of extremely hot days.
Low estimates show a minimum US temperature rise of 2.5 degrees over the next 30 years, but since warmer air has a greater capacity to hold water, humidity will also increase. This will have an amplifying effect on heat indices, the study said.
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How is the heat affecting Hoosiers’ health?
Heat exposure can have both short- and long-term effects on human health. Heat stroke, cardiovascular collapse and possible death are short-term effects, while research suggests organ and cell damage can occur with long-term exposure, the study said.
This can potentially endanger outdoor workers who do not have federal regulations protecting them from extreme temperatures.
Stephanie McFarland, public relations for the Indiana Department of Labor, wrote in an email to IndyStar that there are some standards, including access to potable water and/or medical/first aid requirements.
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What happens to my energy bill?
The study calculated historical residential and commercial electricity cost data from 1990 to the present and found that rising heat will cost Hoosiers an estimated $69.9 million more in cooling bills by 2053.
Using information from the Energy Information Administration, the foundation found that if current carbon emissions remain the same, Indiana will emit nearly £900 million more than it does today. The Foundation concluded that the prospect of rising temperatures “suggests a need to assess energy systems design for the increases in relative heat loads that will be expected in the area over the next 30 years, as this will increase demand on the will increase existing markets”.
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Karl Schneider is an environmental reporter at IndyStar. You can reach him at [email protected] Follow him on Twitter @karlstartswithk
IndyStar’s environmental reporting project is made possible through the generous support of the nonprofit Nina Mason Pulliam Charitable Trust.
This article originally appeared on the Indianapolis Star: Indiana is likely to have more hot days, according to a study