• Climate in the Gulf
• The Report
• For Teachers
• Slow the Change
• Speed our Response
• Water Resources
• Sea-Level Change
• Human Perspectives
Alabama's climate has always been variable and sometimes extreme—and climate change may intensify this historical pattern. Average state temperatures have varied substantially over the past century, with a warming trend since the late 1960s. Average rainfall has changed only a little, with summers becoming slightly drier and winters slightly wetter, and extreme rainfall events have become more frequent. Sea level along Alabama's Gulf coast—from Dauphin Island to Gulf Shores—has risen by as much as 8 inches over the past 100 years due to a combination of globally rising seas and substantial local sinking of the land (subsidence).
Present Climate in Alabama
- Alabama has a warm-temperate and humid climate.
- Annual rainfall totals range from 40–70 inches with little seasonal pattern.
- Rainfall is brought by thunderstorms and tropical storms in the summer, and by extratropical storms in the winter.
- Tropical storms strike the Alabama coast once every 9-10 years on average, but hurricane frequency varies by decade and is strongly influenced by the El Niño–La Niña cycle.
- Occasionally, especially during hurricanes, Alabama experiences substantial flooding.
|Projected Climate Changes in Alabama |
||3-10°F rise in winter lows and 3-7°F rise in summer highs. July heat index—a measure combining temperature and humidity to represent the temperature actually felt—could rise by 10-25°F. The freeze line is likely to move north.|
||Rainfall is likely to decrease in the immediate coastal regions of Alabama, resulting in drier conditions. Models project significant summer soil moisture decreases in coastal regions, and either decreases or increases in northern parts of the state. In upland areas, one model projects wetter conditions, while the other projects drier conditions.|
||More frequent intense rainfall events are expected, with longer dry periods in between. Hurricane intensity (characterized by maximum wind speeds and rainfall totals) could increase slightly with global warming, although changes in future hurricane frequency are uncertain. Even if storm frequencies and intensities remain constant, the damages from coastal flooding and erosion will increase as sea level rises.|
||Sea level will increase at a faster rate over the coming century. By 2100, ocean levels around Alabama could be 15 inches higher than today, based on a continued average subsidence rate of 2 inches per century and a mid-range sea-level rise scenario. Even a relatively small vertical rise in sea level (a few inches to 1 foot) can move the shoreline inland by substantial distance (several tens of feet) along low-lying, flat coastal areas.|
||Temperature and precipitation will continue to vary, in part related to the ENSO (El Niño / Southern Oscillation ) cycle.|
Alabama Canebrake pitcher plant - Threatened & Endangered Species of Alabama. R. Johnson & B. Wehrle; www.pfmt.org.
• Apalachicola Bay
• Big Thicket
• Laguna Madre
• Mississippi Delta