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Friday, August 23, 2013

Don't look now, but...

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According to a White House fact sheet on how climate change will affect Rhode Island, we “can expect more … significantly more days above 90 degrees and flooding from sea level rise and extreme precipitation events.”

We’re actually seeing all of this already.

Rhode Island has been experiencing many more 90 degree days for decades now – about three times as many. Since 1904, we’ve had an average of 4 days a year where the mercury hits 90, according to Glen Field, a meteorologist with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. 

Since 1980, according to his data, there have been on average 12 days a year 90 degrees or hotter. This year there have already been 15 days 90 degrees or hotter and in 2012 there were 12, he said.

Annual precipitation rates haven’t risen as drastically, but Rhode Island has seen more than five more inches of rain and snow since 1980 than the state had since 1904.

As such, the Obama Administration is sending Nancy Sutley, chair of the White House Council on Environmental Quality, to the Ocean State on Wednesday to discuss these and other issues related to climate change.

According to a press release she “will join Senator Sheldon Whitehouse, Representative Jim Langevin, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Region 1 Administrator Curt Spalding, and local residents in Providence for an event hosted by the Rhode Island Public Health Association to discuss the public health impacts of climate change, which include higher risks of asthma attacks and heat-related illnesses, prolonged allergy seasons, and more frequent extreme weather.”

Bob Plain is the editor/publisher of Rhode Island's Future. Previously, he's worked as a reporter for several different news organizations both in Rhode Island and across the country.