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Daily lows break fastest records

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DAYTONA BEACH – Low temperatures at Daytona Beach were 1.1 degrees above normal this summer, continuing a trend of rise of the lows of the night it increases cooling bills, changes the taste of food and is detrimental to human health.

“Across the state of Florida we’ve seen a very significant warming trend, especially over the past 10 years,” said the Florida state climatologist. David Zierden said the News-Journal.

Meteorologist Derrick Weitlich has kept a list of all daily weather records set in east-central Florida since 2015.

According to his tally, 807 records for minimum overnight heat were broken from 2015 to 2020 at sites ranging from Orlando to Daytona Beach to Fort Pierce. That’s more than double the number of maximum temperature records, 361, broken in the same amount of time.

“Significantly warmer than normal conditions have largely dominated weather conditions in the region since (2015), with annual average temperatures from 2015 ranking in the top 10 warmer for most places in the east-central part of the region. Florida, “said Weitlich, who heads the Climate program at the Melbourne National Meteorological Service.

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At the Daytona Beach International Airport weather station, the average overnight summer minimum has risen by 2 degrees Fahrenheit since the 1960s, according to a New York Times analysis. The percentage of unusually warm nights increased from 5% to 26% in the same time frame.

Zierden said that there are four mechanisms that combine to produce this effect:

  1. At night, the boundary layer of the atmosphere, closest to the earth, stabilizes. Due to urbanization and development, the earth absorbs more heat during the day, but when released at night, the atmosphere is less prone to mixing.
  2. The atmosphere is becoming more and more humid, especially over Florida. A more humid atmosphere is also less efficient at emitting heat.
  3. Warmer coastal waters lead to higher nighttime temperatures, and the Gulf of Mexico and the Atlantic Ocean have seen their surface temperatures rise.
  4. The entire global climate is warming up, 1 degree Celsius since the mid-1800s.
Racing fans cool off in front of Daytona International Speedway ahead of Coke Zero Sugar 400 on September 28, 2021.

What is the effect of increasing low temperatures at night?

Zierden said there are a number of downstream impacts, from ecological ripples to increased power consumption and cooling costs.

The associated stresses, both physiological and psychological, can present risks to human health, according to Sarah Lindley McKune, Assistant Research Professor in the Department of Environment and Global Health at the University of Florida and the Center for African Studies.

“While two degrees may seem unimportant in some ways, they are not,” McKune wrote in an email. “Specifically, respiratory and cardiovascular disease, diabetes and kidney disease can be negatively affected by these hot nights. “

These health risks have a disproportionate impact on vulnerable populations, she noted, saying inequalities must be addressed.

“Certainly, people in low-income areas may be less likely to have air conditioning or to be in areas with less ventilation or protection,” McKune said, which increases the risk of mosquito-borne diseases. “In addition to income, there are also age differences in risk, with older people and children at increased risk for health problems after hot nights.”

Zierden added that there have been studies connecting extreme heat at night to negative prenatal health outcomes, such as preterm labor.

Bathers beat the heat in large, floppy straw hats as they set up their umbrellas Thursday, July 29, 2021 in front of Sun Splash Park.

At Daytona Beach, summer temperatures have only dropped into the 60s twice this year: June 1 and August 24. September continued, with a single day dropping to 69 degrees.

Summer 2020 has been worse. Daytona Beach has not seen temperatures drop below 70 for a 97 day stretch from mid-June.

And it’s not just summer. A similar trend was evident in the spring, when average overnight lows were 1.4 degrees above normal. Winter was about normal, with an increase of 0.1 degrees detected, but overnight lows rose 5.2 degrees in the fall.

Zierden said he is helping spread invasive species, whose star children are iguanas and pythons, who march north.

“We haven’t had a very cold winter for several years, so the range of these iguanas is expanding further and further north,” he said. “Natural species like mangroves do the same, so changes in temperature negatively impact the ecology of the state.”

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Children's play by the surf, Monday April 12, 2021 near Daytona Pier.

What effect is climate change having on agriculture?

There are also agricultural impacts in a state that produces far more $ 7 billion in agricultural products annually.

Zierden said high temperatures can affect the ability of cattle to cool down at night, whether with cattle in the field or chickens in a chicken coop.

Volusia County Resource Stewardship Director Brad burbaugh said they saw good and bad. On the one hand, a warmer climate means there is less frost damage, improved winter growth, and earlier planting.

“It also means increased heat stress on crops, increased pressure from pests and diseases and potentially increased water use. Our local farmers are protecting themselves against these negative impacts by adopting new varieties adapted to warmer weather, offering better resistance to pests and diseases, and switching to more efficient watering systems like drip or micro -irrigation, ”he said in an email.

Executive Director of Volusia County Agricultural Office Steve crump said the higher low temperatures were the only climate change impact he noticed in his 25 years of farming. He spoke this summer at a panel hosted by Burbuaugh as part of an extension of the University of Florida’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (UF / IFAS). “Climate Smart Floridians” program.

Luz Vazquez Hernandez, 18, works in a strawberry field near her home in Mulberry, Florida.  She worked as a migrant worker throughout her high school years.

“I’ve always been concerned about weather impacts. Is it going to rain today? Is it going to rain this week? Is it going to freeze in December?” said Crump, who grows citrus and vegetables. “I really haven’t thought about the impact of climate change – other than that winters seem to be warmer and I’m not as concerned about freezing temperatures as I started in my career 25 years ago. “

University of Florida Horticultural Extension Officer Karen stauderman says on her farm, she hardly needs to turn on the water to protect her crops from frost. She said grapes don’t need it, but strawberries need it if there’s frost.

Climate change means that the grape varieties change, as does the taste.

“In Florida, cooler weather makes berries sweeter,” Stuaderman said on the same panel. “I would say the berries aren’t really sweet. They’re sweet after a cold snap.”

She said the UF / IFAS extension office is bringing an intriguing array of new crops to central and northern Florida, including pomegranates, olives, macadamias, coffee and limes.

“The crops we are getting now come from more semi-tropical areas,” she said.

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Construction workers work in the midday sun at Daytona Beach on Tuesday, September 14, 2021.

The Volusia Forever Program, which has used property taxes to conserve 38,000 acres of environmentally sensitive land over the past two decades, is a strategy to mitigate rising temperatures, Burbaugh noted.

“Land conservation is a smart growth strategy, as preservation of ecosystems can help steer urbanization towards existing infrastructure; as such, it prevents greenhouse gas emissions that would result from urbanization. Additionally, by preserving our natural landscapes, we provide natural carbon sinks that can effectively absorb greenhouse gases, ”said Burbaugh.

Zierden said the only way to stop things from getting worse is to tackle the root of climate change: carbon dioxide emission.

“Overall and realistically, the goal is to slow or stop the progression of climate change. To do that, we need to significantly reduce our carbon emissions. It’s just to stabilize things,” he said. he declares. “It all depends on that. For now, emissions continue to rise.”

Emissions are on track to reach a record in the world in 2021, according to the International Energy Agency.

“These rising temperatures are something we have to live with at least for the foreseeable future,” Zierden said.