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'Killer Heat' Expected To Affect Florida's Military Bases

A KC-135 tanker at MacDill AFB in Tampa.
A KC-135 tanker at MacDill AFB in Tampa, which is one of the Florida military bases most at risk for dangerously hot days if no action is taken to reduce carbon emissions. BOBBIE O'BRIEN/WUSF PUBLIC MEDIA

A new study calculates how many dangerously hot days the nation's military bases could experience over the next few decades if no action is taken to reduce carbon emissions – and Florida’s bases top the list.

The Union of Concerned Scientists’ report looked at days when the heat index is more than 100 degrees.

Homestead Air Reserve Base was first, followed by MacDill Air Force Base in Tampa, and two locations of Naval Air Station Pensacola.

Kristina Dahl with the Union of Concerned Scientists said heat-related illnesses are already a problem in the military and result in troops dying on American soil every year.

“For these Florida bases, we're talking about an additional 3 months or more per year when troops would be working in dangerously hot conditions,” Dahl said.

READ MORE: WUSF's coverage of the Union of Concerned Scientist's "Killer Heat" study

The results reflect the worst-case scenario, and Dahl said taking action now to reduce carbon emissions will help.

But she said bases will still need to prepare for a future that involves significantly more hot days.

“The good news is, if we see this coming, and we know this is going to be such a threat, we still have time to do something about it,” said Dahl.

Some steps Dahl recommended include ensuring all military housing is properly cooled -- and that those cooling systems run on clean energy -- and improving clothing and equipment technology to help keep troops cooler while they work.

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