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Memphis a "Hot Spot" in New Report on Heat Waves

August 26, 2009

MEMPHIS, Tenn. - Summertime heat waves will happen more frequently if steps aren't taken to slow the pace of climate change, according to a new report from the National Wildlife Federation. The study maps out where and how often extreme heat events can be expected, and who will be affected.

Memphis is on the list of cities where greater numbers of heat wave days are predicted. NWF Climate Scientist Amanda Staudt says extreme heat is a public health concern, and also an issue of environmental justice.

"People of color are more likely to live in cities and more likely to be of lower incomes. They tend to live in the places where heat waves are the worst and have the least amount of resources to adapt."

However, adds Staudt, there are things cities can do to help keep things cooler.

"Introducing more green space - parks and trees, green cover on top of your roof. These can greatly reduce the urban heat island effect, which is what makes it so hot in cities."

The report, "More Extreme Heat Waves: Global Warming's Wakeup Call," also discusses how extreme heat events affect agriculture, fish, wildlife and their habitats. For instance, high water temperatures in Yellowstone Park in 2007 caused one of the largest known fish kills in the area. It can be viewed online at www.nwf.org.

Dick Layman, Public News Service - TN