Texas to grow hotter in coming decades

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Texas A&M; Map: Will Chase/Axios

New research by the state climatologist suggests that Central Texas will get hotter and drier in coming decades — and expect more flooding.

Worth noting: John Nielsen-Gammon, Texas A&M atmospheric scientist and state climatologist, tells Axios that while state agency officials consult him, he never hears from the governor's office.

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Why it matters: Gov. Greg Abbott, who counts fossil fuel executives as major campaign donors, has largely ignored scientists' claims that the planet is warming — and has embraced the loosening of regulations on Texas' oil and gas industry, a major employer in the state.

What they found: In a report jointly published by Texas A&M and the research and planning organization Texas 2036, Nielsen-Gammon and his team discovered:

  • The number of 100℉ days has more than doubled in Texas over the past 40 years and could come close to doubling again by 2036.

  • The expected average temperature in 2036 will be a few degrees warmer than the average over the last half of the 20th century — and Texans should expect extreme monthly summertime temperature trends to increase.

  • Heavy rains have become more frequent and severe, and that trend is expected to continue. As a result, there will be a significant uptick in urban flooding — as much as 30-50% more than occurred over the last half of the 20th century.

  • Texas faces elevated drought severity, as hotter temperatures increase evaporation rates.

Texas A&M; Chart: Will Chase/Axios

What they're saying: "The actual weather from year to year and decade to decade will be heavily influenced by natural variability which at this point is largely unpredictable," the report says.

Flashback: Nielsen-Gammon was appointed state climatologist 21 years ago — by then Gov. George W. Bush — after his predecessor retired.

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