25 U.S. Military Bases Most At Risk From Rising Heat

Over 12,000 instances of heat-related illness were reported among active service members of the U.S. military from 2017 to 2021, according to the Military Health System. While the U.S. has troops deployed in the arid deserts of the Middle East and the balmy climes of Southeast Asia, a majority of these cases of heat stroke and heat exhaustion occurred on U.S. soil. (Here are countries with the most U.S. military bases.)

Rising temperatures in the United States pose a significant threat to military training and operations. Some of the U.S. military’s largest, most significant military bases are in parts of the country most susceptible to global warming, posing a serious threat to the defense and readiness capabilities of the U.S. armed forces.

To determine the U.S. military bases most at risk of rising heat, 24/7 Wall St. reviewed “Killer Heat in the United States,” a 2019 report from the Union of Concerned Scientists. The report projects county-level temperature changes, specifically the increase in days of extreme heat as measured by the heat index. The heat index combines temperature and humidity to create “feels like” temperature. 24/7 Wall St. matched U.S. military installations to their main county, ranking the installation based on the projected increase in the number of days per year with a heat index above 100°F from historical averages to 2050.

The military bases most at risk from rising heat are located in the South, where temperature change is projected to be the most intense. Florida and Texas are each home to eight of the 25 military bases most at risk, while Louisiana is home to three, and Alabama, Georgia, and Mississippi home to two each. (These are the places on Earth most at risk for record heat waves.)

Many of the most threatened military bases hold significant strategic importance for the military. Fort Cavazos, for example, is one of the largest military bases in the United States, serving as a deployment center for active-duty troops, and it is one of the major formations of the U.S. military. Fort Cavazos is primarily located in Coryell County, where the number of 100°F days per year is projected to increase from a historical average of 22 to 86 by 2050, one of the largest increases of any base.

Other important installations include Florida’s Patrick Space Force Base, which ensures the security of the space launch pads at Cape Canaveral, and Texas’ Fort Polk, home of the Joint Readiness Training Center and critical training live-fire, force-on-force training operations. From 2017 to 2021, there were 614 heat-related illnesses reported at Fort Polk.

Click here to see U.S. military bases most at risk from rising heat.

Click here to see our detailed methodology.

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