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Study Suggests Hotter Summers In The Forecast For Southwest

(Photo courtesy of KJZZ file footage)

Hotter summers and increasing drought are in the forecast for Arizona over the next few years. The newly released National Climate Assessment suggests the impacts of climate change are already being felt in the Southwest.

So what does that really mean? Dr. Nancy Grimm, a professor of life sciences at Arizona State University who contributed to the report, said we’ll see both positive and negative impacts.

She explained that while the agricultural industry could see a longer growing season, cities like Phoenix can expect more days topping 110 degrees. "You know for anything in climate change there are always going to be some positives," Grimm said. "But on balance, the negatives are outweighing the positives unfortunately."

And according to scientists at ASU, those warm temperatures can be more than just uncomfortable.

A new study finds that densely populated areas and areas with a high population of low income earners are more vulnerable to hot summer temperatures and have been linked to increased hospitalizations for heat related illnesses like dehydration and heat stroke.

"So if you have people who don’t have high incomes, perhaps they’re more reluctant to incur a charge on their energy bills for staying cool in the summer," said Dr. David Hondula, a researcher in the Center for Policy Informatics at ASU. "We believe air conditioning is one of the most effective ways to stay out of the hospital when it’s hot."

Over the next fifty years, federal forecasters are expecting regional temperatures to rise by about two degrees.

Carrie Jung Senior Field Correspondent, Education Desk Carrie Jung began her public radio career in Albuquerque, N.M., where she fell in love with the diverse cultural scene and unique political environment of the Southwest. Jung has been heard on KJZZ since 2013 when she served as a regular contributor to the Fronteras Desk from KUNM Albuquerque. She covered several major stories there including New Mexico's Supreme Court decision legalizing same-sex marriage and Albuquerque's failed voter initiative to ban late-term abortions. Jung has also contributed stories about environmental and Native American issues to NPR's Morning Edition, PRI's The World, Al Jazeera America, WNYC's The Takeaway, and National Native News. She earned a bachelor's degree in psychology and a master's in marketing, both from Clemson University. When Jung isn't producing content for KJZZ she can usually be found buried beneath mounds of fabric and quilting supplies. She recently co-authored a book, "Sweet And Simple Sewing," with her mother and sister, who are fabric designers.