Special Report

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

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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.

25. Fort Novosel (Dale County, AL)
> Increase in 100°F days by 2050: +60
> Historical annual average of 100°F days: 15
> Projected annual average of 100°F days by 2050: 75
> Active-duty personnel, 2019: 3,860
> Branch: Army

Located in Dale County, Alabama, Fort Novosel is home to the U.S. Army Aviation Center of Excellence and serves as the headquarters for the Army Aviation branch. It holds strategic importance as the primary training base for Army aviation, providing initial and advanced training for Army aviators, warrant officers, and aviation support personnel. The base’s primary focus is on rotary-wing aviation training, with various aircraft platforms, including the AH-64 Apache, UH-60 Black Hawk, and CH-47 Chinook.

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24. Maxwell AFB (Montgomery County, AL)
> Increase in 100°F days by 2050: +60
> Historical annual average of 100°F days: 18
> Projected annual average of 100°F days by 2050: 78
> Active-duty personnel, 2019: 3,012
> Branch: Air Force

Maxwell Air Force Base is located in Montgomery, Alabama, and is the home of Air University, the intellectual and leadership development center of the U.S. Air Force. Maxwell hosts various educational and professional development programs for officers, enlisted personnel, and civilian employees. Maxwell AFB’s Air University offers programs such as Squadron Officer School, Air Command and Staff College, and Air War College, preparing future leaders for senior positions within the Air Force.

23. Naval Air Station and Joint Reserve Base Fort Worth (Tarrant County, TX)
> Increase in 100°F days by 2050: +61
> Historical annual average of 100°F days: 29
> Projected annual average of 100°F days by 2050: 90
> Active-duty personnel, 2019: 934
> Branch: Navy

Naval Air Station Joint Reserve Base Fort Worth is located in Tarrant County, Texas, and is a major military installation for the U.S. Navy, Marine Corps, Air Force, and Army Reserve. The base serves as a key aviation and logistics hub, supporting a variety of military operations, training, and maintenance activities. NAS JRB Fort Worth is home to various units, including the Navy’s Tactical Support Wing, Marine Aircraft Group 41, and Air Force Reserve’s 301st Fighter Wing.

22. Naval Air Station Meridian (Lauderdale County, MS)
> Increase in 100°F days by 2050: +62
> Historical annual average of 100°F days: 20
> Projected annual average of 100°F days by 2050: 83
> Active-duty personnel, 2019: 1,126
> Branch: Navy

Naval Air Station Meridian is primarily located in Lauderdale County, Mississippi. The base conducts training on various aircraft, including the T-45 Goshawk and T-6B Texan II, preparing pilots for advanced training and operational assignments. Naval Air Station Meridian supports a wide range of missions, including pilot selection, primary flight training, and advanced flight training in instrument navigation, formation flying, and tactical procedures.

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21. Barksdale AFB (Bossier Parish, LA)
> Increase in 100°F days by 2050: +63
> Historical annual average of 100°F days: 32
> Projected annual average of 100°F days by 2050: 95
> Active-duty personnel, 2019: 5,175
> Branch: Air Force

Barksdale Air Force Base is located in Bossier City, Louisiana, and is the headquarters of the Air Force Global Strike Command. The base plays a critical role in U.S. military operations by serving as the primary base for the B-52 Stratofortress, a long-range strategic bomber. Barksdale AFB is responsible for maintaining and operating the B-52 fleet, which provides global strike capabilities and nuclear deterrence. The base is home to the 2nd Bomb Wing, which operates the B-52 bombers, and the 8th Air Force, responsible for providing strategic and operational oversight.

20. Fort Stewart (Liberty County, GA)
> Increase in 100°F days by 2050: +64
> Historical annual average of 100°F days: 24
> Projected annual average of 100°F days by 2050: 87
> Active-duty personnel, 2019: 19,476
> Branch: Army

Fort Stewart is located in Liberty County, Georgia, and holds strategic importance as one of the largest Army installations in the eastern United States. The base serves as the home of the 3rd Infantry Division, which is a rapid deployment and contingency force capable of conducting a wide range of military operations. Fort Stewart’s proximity to the Port of Savannah facilitates the rapid deployment and movement of military equipment and personnel.

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19. Tyndall AFB (Bay County, FL)
> Increase in 100°F days by 2050: +64
> Historical annual average of 100°F days: 11
> Projected annual average of 100°F days by 2050: 75
> Active-duty personnel, 2019: 1,633
> Branch: Air Force

Tyndall Air Force Base is located in Bay County, Florida. The base plays a critical role in U.S. military operations by serving as the primary training site for F-22 Raptor pilots and supporting advanced fighter aircraft operations. Tyndall AFB is home to the 325th Fighter Wing, responsible for F-22 pilot training and ensuring the combat readiness of the F-22 fleet. Tyndall AFB was heavily impacted by Hurricane Michael in 2018, leading to extensive reconstruction efforts and investments in resilient infrastructure.

18. Eglin AFB (Okaloosa County, FL)
> Increase in 100°F days by 2050: +64
> Historical annual average of 100°F days: 15
> Projected annual average of 100°F days by 2050: 79
> Active-duty personnel, 2019: 9,243
> Branch: Air Force

Eglin Air Force Base is located in Okaloosa County in the Florida Panhandle. The base serves as the primary development, testing, and evaluation center for air-delivered weapons systems and advanced aerospace systems and technologies for the Air Force, as well as the training hub for space, and cyberspace forces. The base is home to the Air Force Research Laboratory’s Munitions Directorate and the 96th Test Wing, which manages a wide range of testing programs.

17. Fort Cavazos (Coryell County, TX)
> Increase in 100°F days by 2050: +64
> Historical annual average of 100°F days: 22
> Projected annual average of 100°F days by 2050: 86
> Active-duty personnel, 2019: 36,697
> Branch: Army

Fort Cavazos is located in Killeen, Texas, and holds strategic importance as one of the largest military installations in the United States. The base serves as a major training and deployment center for the U.S. Army, particularly for armored and mechanized units. The base is home to III Corps, one of the Army’s active-duty corps, which is responsible for rapid deployment and operational planning. The base’s location in central Texas provides easy access to major transportation routes and strategic military installations.

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16. Fort Polk (Vernon Parish, LA)
> Increase in 100°F days by 2050: +67
> Historical annual average of 100°F days: 30
> Projected annual average of 100°F days by 2050: 96
> Active-duty personnel, 2019: 7,783
> Branch: Army

Fort Polk is located in Vernon Parish, Louisiana, and holds strategic importance as a training center for the U.S. Army, specializing in combat and maneuver training. The base serves as the home of the Joint Readiness Training Center, providing realistic and challenging training environments for units preparing for deployment. Fort Polk plays a critical role in U.S. military operations by conducting force-on-force exercises, live-fire training, and scenario-based simulations to enhance unit readiness. The base’s location in Louisiana allows for training in diverse environments, including swamps, forests, and rural areas.

15. Moody AFB (Lowndes County, GA)
> Increase in 100°F days by 2050: +68
> Historical annual average of 100°F days: 20
> Projected annual average of 100°F days by 2050: 88
> Active-duty personnel, 2019: 4,562
> Branch: Air Force

Moody Air Force Base is located in Valdosta, Georgia, and holds strategic importance as a primary training and operational base for close air support and combat search and rescue missions. The base is home to the 23rd Wing, which operates the A-10C Thunderbolt II aircraft, commonly known as the “Warthog,” specializing in close air support missions. The base also hosts the 93rd Air Ground Operations Wing, responsible for training and equipping air liaison officers and tactical air control party personnel.

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14. Laughlin AFB (Val Verde County, TX)
> Increase in 100°F days by 2050: +68
> Historical annual average of 100°F days: 16
> Projected annual average of 100°F days by 2050: 83
> Active-duty personnel, 2019: 1,388
> Branch: Air Force

Laughlin Air Force Base is located in Val Verde County, Texas, and is the largest pilot training base in the Air Force, providing specialized undergraduate pilot training for both the U.S. Air Force and allied nations. Laughlin AFB trains pilots for various aircraft, including the T-6 Texan II and T-38C Talon, preparing them for advanced missions. The base’s location near the U.S.-Mexico border allows for realistic and diverse training environments, including low-level flight and airspace coordination with other agencies. The base also conducts specialized training programs for remotely piloted aircraft operators.

13. Naval Air Station Pensacola (Escambia County, FL)
> Increase in 100°F days by 2050: +68
> Historical annual average of 100°F days: 13
> Projected annual average of 100°F days by 2050: 80
> Active-duty personnel, 2019: 8,595
> Branch: Navy

Nicknamed the “Cradle of Naval Aviation” Naval Air Station Pensacola, located in Escambia County, Florida, is the primary training base for Navy, Marine Corps, and Coast Guard aviators. The base serves as the headquarters for the Naval Education and Training Command and is home to the Naval Aviation Schools Command. The base operates the T-6B Texan II, T-45 Goshawk, and TH-57 Sea Ranger aircraft for primary, advanced, and helicopter flight training, respectively. NAS Pensacola hosts the prestigious Blue Angels, the U.S. Navy’s flight demonstration squadron.

12. Naval Station Mayport (Duval County, FL)
> Increase in 100°F days by 2050: +68
> Historical annual average of 100°F days: 16
> Projected annual average of 100°F days by 2050: 84
> Active-duty personnel, 2019: 10,442
> Branch: Navy

Naval Station Mayport is located in Duval County, Florida, and is the third largest naval installation in the United States by personnel as well as the homeport for several U.S. Navy surface ships. The base serves as a major hub for U.S. Navy operations in the Atlantic Ocean, particularly for surface combatants, including aircraft carriers, destroyers, and frigates. The base has served as the homeport to aircraft carriers like the USS Shangri-La and the USS John F. Kennedy, and is today the homeport to many military ships.

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11. Naval Air Station Jacksonville (Duval County, FL)
> Increase in 100°F days by 2050: +68
> Historical annual average of 100°F days: 16
> Projected annual average of 100°F days by 2050: 84
> Active-duty personnel, 2019: 6,967
> Branch: Navy

Naval Air Station Jacksonville is located in Duval County, Florida, and holds strategic importance as one of the Navy’s premier aviation bases on the East Coast. The base is home to multiple aviation squadrons, including maritime patrol aircraft, helicopters, and unmanned aerial systems. The base operates the P-8A Poseidon aircraft, which is used for long-range maritime patrol, reconnaissance, and anti-submarine warfare.

10. Lackland AFB (Bexar County, TX)
> Increase in 100°F days by 2050: +68
> Historical annual average of 100°F days: 29
> Projected annual average of 100°F days by 2050: 97
> Active-duty personnel, 2019: 22,220
> Branch: Air Force

Lackland Air Force Base is located in Bexar County, Texas, and is the primary training center for enlisted personnel in the U.S. Air Force. The base is known as the “Gateway to the Air Force” and serves as the starting point for thousands of new recruits each year. The base is home to the 37th Training Wing, responsible for basic military training for all enlisted airmen. The base also hosts several technical training schools, providing specialized training in various career fields, including aircraft maintenance, communications, and cyber operations.

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9. Fort Sam Houston (Bexar County, TX)
> Increase in 100°F days by 2050: +68
> Historical annual average of 100°F days: 29
> Projected annual average of 100°F days by 2050: 97
> Active-duty personnel, 2019: 10,721
> Branch: Army

Fort Sam Houston is located in San Antonio, Texas, and is one of the oldest military installations in the United States. The base is home to the U.S. Army Medical Command and serves as the headquarters for Army North. The base houses several major medical organizations, including the Brooke Army Medical Center and the Army Medical Department Center and School. The base has historical significance as the birthplace of Army flight training and the site of the first military flight in 1910.

8. Randolph AFB (Bexar County, TX)
> Increase in 100°F days by 2050: +68
> Historical annual average of 100°F days: 29
> Projected annual average of 100°F days by 2050: 97
> Active-duty personnel, 2019: 2,813
> Branch: Air Force

Nicknamed the “Showplace of the Air Force,” Randolph Air Force Base is located in Universal City, Texas, and is the headquarters of Air Education and Training Command. The base is home to the 12th Flying Training Wing, which conducts pilot training using the T-1 Jayhawk, T-6 Texan II, and T-38 Talon aircraft. The base also houses the Air Force Personnel Center. Randolph AFB is known for its iconic architecture and historic buildings, such as the Base Administration building, colloquially known as the “Taj Mahal.”

7. Keesler AFB (Harrison County, MS)
> Increase in 100°F days by 2050: +70
> Historical annual average of 100°F days: 22
> Projected annual average of 100°F days by 2050: 92
> Active-duty personnel, 2019: 5,162
> Branch: Air Force

Keesler Air Force Base is located in Biloxi, Mississippi, and is a major training center for the U.S. Air Force. The base is home to the 81st Training Wing, responsible for providing technical training to a wide range of Air Force career fields. The base is a center for weather forecasting and operates the 53rd Weather Reconnaissance Squadron, nicknamed the “Hurricane Hunters,” which flies through tropical storms and hurricanes to gather life-saving weather data. Keesler AFB also hosts the Second Air Force, which oversees the training and education of Air Force personnel.

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6. Naval Air Station Joint Reserve Base New Orleans (Plaquemines Parish, LA)
> Increase in 100°F days by 2050: +78
> Historical annual average of 100°F days: 14
> Projected annual average of 100°F days by 2050: 92
> Active-duty personnel, 2019: 463
> Branch: Navy

NAS JRB New Orleans is located in Belle Chasse, Louisiana, and is a joint reserve base supporting multiple military branches. The base serves as a hub for both active-duty and reserve components of the Navy, Marine Corps, Air Force, Army, and Coast Guard. The base supports a wide range of missions, including maritime patrol, search and rescue, aerial firefighting, disaster response, and combat support. It is home to Fighter Squadron Composite 204, which operates Tiger II fighter-attack aircraft, and the Louisiana Air National Guard’s 159th Fighter Wing, operating the F-15C/D Eagle fighter aircraft.

5. Naval Air Station Kingsville (Kleberg County, TX)
> Increase in 100°F days by 2050: +78
> Historical annual average of 100°F days: 47
> Projected annual average of 100°F days by 2050: 125
> Active-duty personnel, 2019: 321
> Branch: Navy

Naval Air Station Kingsville is located in Kleberg County, Texas. The base is one of the premier training facilities for advanced jet aviation and focuses on training pilots for carrier-based operations. NAS Kingsville is home to Training Air Wing Two, which operates the T-45 Goshawk aircraft used for advanced flight training. The base also trains international military personnel from allied nations, promoting military cooperation and interoperability.

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4. Naval Air Station Corpus Christi (Nueces County, TX)
> Increase in 100°F days by 2050: +82
> Historical annual average of 100°F days: 38
> Projected annual average of 100°F days by 2050: 119
> Active-duty personnel, 2019: 1,367
> Branch: Navy

Naval Air Station Corpus Christi is located in Nueces County. The base is the main training facility for naval aviators in the United States, specifically focusing on training Navy and Marine Corps pilots for carrier-based operations. The base hosts Training Air Wing FOUR, which operates the T-6B Texan II aircraft used for primary flight training. It also serves as the headquarters for the Chief of Naval Air Training, overseeing pilot training programs for the Navy and Marine Corps.

3. Patrick Space Force Base (Brevard County, FL)
> Increase in 100°F days by 2050: +82
> Historical annual average of 100°F days: 14
> Projected annual average of 100°F days by 2050: 96
> Active-duty personnel, 2019: 1,733
> Branch: Air Force

Patrick Space Force Base is located in Brevard County, Florida, near Cocoa Beach. The base is home to the 45th Space Wing, which provides launch support and range operations for both military and civilian space launches. The base is responsible for ensuring the safety and security of launches from the Eastern Range, which includes the Kennedy Space Center and Cape Canaveral Space Force Station.

2. Macdill AFB (Hillsborough County, FL)
> Increase in 100°F days by 2050: +91
> Historical annual average of 100°F days: 30
> Projected annual average of 100°F days by 2050: 121
> Active-duty personnel, 2019: 5,705
> Branch: Air Force

MacDill Air Force Base, located in Tampa, Florida, is strategically important due to its proximity to major military commands and its access to both the Atlantic Ocean and the Gulf of Mexico. The base is home to the 6th Air Refueling Wing, which operates the KC-135 Stratotanker aircraft, and the 927th Air Refueling Wing, an Air Force Reserve unit. It serves as the headquarters for the U.S. Central Command, which oversees military operations in the Middle East, Central Asia, and parts of North Africa and the U.S. Special Operations Command, which coordinates special operations forces worldwide.

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1. Homestead Air Reserve Base (Miami-Dade County, FL)
> Increase in 100°F days by 2050: +93
> Historical annual average of 100°F days: 41
> Projected annual average of 100°F days by 2050: 134
> Active-duty personnel, 2019: 429
> Branch: Air Force

Homestead Air Reserve Base is located in Homestead, Florida, approximately 25 miles southwest of Miami. HARB is primarily an Air Force Reserve installation, hosting the 482nd Fighter Wing, which operates and maintains the F-16 Fighting Falcon aircraft. The base also serves as a joint-use facility, with the Air Force, Navy, Army, and Coast Guard units utilizing its facilities. It is strategically important due to its proximity to the Caribbean and its access to South and Central America.

Methodology

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.

Military installations were assigned to counties based on legal geographic boundaries as of 2022 from the U.S. Census Bureau’s TIGER shapefile program. Military installations that span multiple counties were assigned to the county with which they share the most overlap. Data on active duty personnel by installation came from the Department of Defense and is for 2019.

The report based historical annual average temperatures on the years 1971 to 2000. The report projected increases in the number of days per year with a heat index above 100°F assuming three global climate scenarios that reflect different levels of action to reduce global emissions,

from effectively no action to rapid action. We used the “no action” scenario in which heat-trapping emissions continue to rise as they have since 2000, leading to an increase in global average temperatures of about 8°F by 2100. According to the UCS, this scenario is consistent with current and historical emissions growth.

Full report citation: Dahl, Kristina, Erika Spanger-Siegfried, Rachel Licker, Astrid Caldas, John Abatzoglou, Nicholas Mailloux, Rachel Cleetus, Shana Udvardy, Juan Declet-Barreto, and Pamela Worth. 2019. Killer Heat in the United States: Climate Choices and the Future of Dangerously Hot Days. Cambridge, MA: Union of Concerned Scientists. https://www.ucsusa.org/resources/killer-heat-united-states-0

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