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Fastest warming states since 1970 |

Just a degree or two more doesn’t seem like much. You’ll barely notice the change on a sunny afternoon or in the warmth of a cup of coffee. But over time, it’s enough to change our environment from top to bottom.

Every state is warming, with higher temperatures fueled by everything from powerful ocean currents and giant coal-fired power plants to leaky commuters, cows and old buildings.

To determine which U.S. states are warming fastest, Stacker consulted the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s climate-at-a-glance tool. All states (except Hawaii and Alaska, for which state-level data are not available) are ranked here by their average warming, temperature changes of the most hot spots from each state being included for context. Ties are broken by the fastest warming city in each state. When available, data from the three fastest warming cities is included; for some states, data for only one or two cities was available.

The main cause of rising temperatures today is an increase in human-made greenhouse gases, particularly carbon dioxide and methane. The more gas we emit by burning fossil fuels like oil, gas and coal, and in our agricultural practices, the more heat is trapped. Plants and trees alleviate the situation somewhat by absorbing carbon dioxide during photosynthesis. The ocean also absorbs carbon dioxide, but it can only store a limited amount.

As temperatures rise, winters get shorter. Ice on the Great Lakes forms later and disappears earlier. Colorado’s snowpack is melting up to 30 days earlier than just a generation ago. With less snow in the mountains of New Mexico and Colorado to feed the Rio Grande, the river is drying up.

Meanwhile, springs are wetter with more frequent (and more destructive) flooding, and summers are drier with longer sweltering heat waves that can be debilitating and deadly for those who can’t afford the price. to stay cool. High winds fuel wildfires in mountain forests and barges run aground in the low waters of the Mississippi River.

Evaporation threatens water supplies for drinking and irrigation, while algal blooms choke inland lakes. In the heart of the country, crop yields are falling. Along the coasts, land becomes too salty for agriculture, as salt water seeps into freshwater aquifers and groundwater.

Spectacular beaches are also disappearing. Rising seas threaten the existence of picturesque barrier islands. According to a 2020 study published in npj Climate and Atmospheric Science, global ocean levels could rise more than four feet by 2100 if aggressive mitigation efforts are not undertaken.

Many states are taking action to burn less coal, use less electricity, tighten fuel standards, encourage people to drive less, create greener cities and build more efficient buildings to change our consumption, our behaviours, our habits and our attitudes towards warming temperatures. . Keep reading to see which states have seen the fastest temperature increases over the past 52 years and how those increases have affected the people who call those states home.

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Mary Cashion

The author Mary Cashion