• Climate in the Gulf
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Texas'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 increased slightly, both in the summer and winter, and extreme rainfall events have become more frequent. Sea level from Brownsville to Port Arthur has risen steadily, increasing eight inches over the past 100 years due to a combination of globally rising seas and substantial local sinking of the land (subsidence). However, the rate of sea-level rise varies locally with the rate of land subsidence.
Present Climate in Texas
- In the region of the western Gulf of Mexico, Texas has a subtropical and mostly semi-arid climate.
- Total annual rainfall in this region ranges from as little as 7 inches at the Rio Grande to over 40 inches at the Louisiana border.
- Persistent southeast winds off the Gulf dry out the landscape in this coastal region.
- While thunderstorms and tropical storms can bring respite from the dry summers, they can result in substantial flooding to the region as well. Tropical storms strike the Texas coast on average once every seven years.
- During the winter, radical temperature variations can occur with the passage of cold fronts, (so-called Northers) with drops of 30–40°F within just a few hours.
|Projected Climate Changes in Texas |
||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 and summer soil moisture is likely to increase in the immediate coastal regions of Texas, except for a portion of the south Texas coast. 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 Texas could be 17 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.|
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