Extreme heat events—or heat waves—cause more deaths each year in the U.S. than hurricanes, lightning, tornadoes, floods and earthquakes combined.
In the past 50 years, spring in Vermont now arrives two weeks earlier and winter starts one week later.
Climate change is a long-term change in the typical weather conditions of a particular location, which could include warming, cooling, or changes in precipitation frequency or intensity. Natural occurrences contribute to climate change—such as ocean currents, volcanic eruptions, solar cycles, and variations in the earth’s orbit. However, between 90% and 100% of publishing climate scientists agree that human activity is contributing to the climate change that we are currently experiencing,1 primarily because of fossil fuel emissions and land use changes.2 There has been rigorous scientific study into the causes of climate change, and natural processes alone cannot account for the warming observed over the past century.
While climate change is a global issue, local effects vary. In Vermont, average temperatures are 2°F and 4°F warmer than they were in the mid-1960s, and we receive 7 inches more of precipitation per year. Scientific evidence suggests that we will have more heavy precipitation events in the future, and average temperatures will continue to get warmer.
The Climate and Health Program has identified a variety of areas in which climate change can affect human health in Vermont. These include effects from extreme heat, extreme weather events, tickborne and-mosquito-borne diseases, cyanobacteria (blue-green algae) blooms, air quality and pollen issues, and waterborne and foodborne diseases.
Currently, you can find state and county-level data on heat stress emergency department visits, hospitalizations, and mortality in the Vermont Tracking portal. You can also visit the Cyanobacteria (Blue-Green Algae) Tracker to find out more about the location of cyanobacterial blooms in Lake Champlain and inland lakes.
- Heat Stress Emergency Department Visits
- Heat Stress Hospitalizations:
- Heat Stress Mortality, 2000 – 2013
The Health Department has also produced a Heat Vulnerability Index interactive map, for emergency planning and educational purposes. Read more about the descriptions of the data going into the index and learn more about heat vulnerability in Vermont.
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1 Cook, J., Oreskes, N., Doran, P. T., Anderegg, W. R., Verheggen, B., Maibach, E. W., ... & Nuccitelli, D. (2016). Consensus on consensus: a synthesis of consensus estimates on human-caused global warming.Environmental Research Letters, 11(4), 048002.
2 IPCC, 2014: Summary for Policymakers. In: Climate Change 2014: Impacts, Adaptation, and Vulnerability. Part A: Global and Sectoral Aspects. Contribution of Working Group II to the Fifth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change [Field, C.B., V.R. Barros, D.J. Dokken, K.J. Mach, M.D. Mastrandrea, T.E. Bilir, M. Chatterjee, K.L. Ebi, Y.O. Estrada, R.C. Genova, B. Girma, E.S. Kissel, A.N. Levy, S. MacCracken, P.R. Mastrandrea, and L.L. White (eds.)]. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, United Kingdom and New York, NY, USA, pp. 1-32.