• Climate in the Gulf
• The Report
• For Teachers
• Slow the Change
• Speed our Response
• Water Resources
• Sea-Level Change
• Human Perspectives
Extreme heat, the quality of air and water, seafood safety and storm-related risks are of great concern for all residents and visitors, particularly Florida's large elderly population. These public health issues may be affected by climate change as a result of the complex interaction of a number of human and environmental factors. Specific health concerns related to climate change include:
- More heat-related illnesses and deaths. The July heat index is projected to increase most in the southern United States. Metropolitan areas—such as Orlando and Tampa-St. Petersburg—are particularly vulnerable to more frequent heat waves. Prolonged, severe heat could increase the number of heat-related illnesses and deaths. This could especially affect people who are unable to protect themselves from the heat or whose health is already compromised, including the elderly, the very young, and the poor.
- Decreased air quality. Higher temperatures will also lead to increased production of ground-level ozone. When combined with higher concentration of air pollutants and higher pollen counts, more ground-level ozone could seriously compromise air quality.
- Increased risk of illness from contaminated shellfish. Warmer coastal waters, especially in combination with nutrient pollution, can also increase the intensity, duration, and extent of blooms of harmful algae and cyanobacteria (formerly known as blue-green algae). Red tides—while considered a natural phenomenon and not dependent on pollution—are already a chronic problem along Florida's Gulf Coast and thrive in warmer waters. Algal blooms damage habitat and shellfish nurseries and can be toxic to both marine organisms and humans.
- Increased risk of disease. Contamination of surface water bodies and groundwater resources from septic tanks increases the risk of bacterial and viral infections. This risk increases with extreme rainfall and runoff events and higher water temperatures—as projected under global warming. Nearshore waters could also be affected by viral and bacterial contamination (as seen recently in Tampa Bay), harming the seafood and recreation industries.
Panther - South Florida Water Management District.
Red Tide - FL Department of Environmental Protection.
• Apalachicola Bay
• Big Thicket
• Laguna Madre
• Mississippi Delta