Email Print Share
July 15, 2021

It's Heating Up!

NSF-funded researchers at Clemson University project that periods of extremely high heat are likely to double across the lower 48 United States by the end of this century. As temperatures rise, so will the incidences of heat stress.

Credit: National Science Foundation

It's Heating Up!

Hi, I'm Mo Barrow with The Discovery Files, from NSF -- the U.S. National Science Foundation.

Quick! Turn on the AC! It's hot out there! But heat stress is no joke and climate change has been causing temperatures to heat up around the world.

Researchers at Clemson University, funded by NSF, project that the periods of extremely high heat are likely to double across the lower 48 states by the end of this century. As temperatures rise, so will the incidence of heat stress.

Heat stress is a consequence of both the temperature and humidity getting so high, the body is unable to rid itself of the excess heat. It can cause a number of heat-related conditions, to include cramps and worse -- stroke.

And the culprit? Climate change!

The research team noted that the effect of climate change on growing populations could dramatically impact human mortality in the decades ahead. They studied cases of heat stress from 1980 to 2019 calculating averages of the heat index for each summer during that 40-year period.

Then they compared this data to projected human-driven climate change models for those same targeted areas over future 40-year periods concluding that, due to population growth alone, the risk of heat stress is likely to increase more than two-fold in certain areas of the U.S.

Now, we really don't want to use the AC year-round, do we?

Discover how the U.S. National Science Foundation is advancing research at

"The discovery files" covers projects funded by the government's National Science Foundation. Federally sponsored research -- brought to you, by you! Learn more at or on our podcast.

Images and other media in the National Science Foundation Multimedia Gallery are available for use in print and electronic material by NSF employees, members of the media, university staff, teachers and the general public. All media in the gallery are intended for personal, educational and nonprofit/non-commercial use only.

Images credited to the National Science Foundation, a federal agency, are in the public domain. The images were created by employees of the United States Government as part of their official duties or prepared by contractors as "works for hire" for NSF. You may freely use NSF-credited images and, at your discretion, credit NSF with a "Courtesy: National Science Foundation" notation.

Additional information about general usage can be found in Conditions.