Climate Change Impacts on the United States - Foundation : The Potential Consequences of Climate Variability and Change
Long-term observations confirm that our climate is now changing at a rapid rate. Over the 20th century, the average annual US temperature has risen by almost 1 F (0.6 C) and precipitation has increased nationally by 5 to 10%, mostly due to increases in heavy downpours. These trends are most apparent over the past few decades. The science indicates that the warming in the 21st century will be significantly larger than in the 20th century. Scenarios examined in this Assessment, which assume no major interventions to reduce continued growth of world greenhouse gas emissions, indicate that temperatures in the US will rise by about 5-9 F (3-5 C) on average in the next 100 years, which is more than the projected global increase. This rise is very likely to be associated with more extreme precipitation and faster evaporation of water, leading to greater frequency of both very wet and very dry conditions. This Assessment reveals a number of national-level impacts of climate variability and change including impacts to natural ecosystems and water resources. Natural ecosystems appear to be the most vulnerable to the harmful effects of climate change, as there is often little that can be done to help them adapt to the projected speed and amount of change. Some ecosystems that are already constrained by climate, such as alpine meadows in the Rocky Mountains, are likely to face extreme stress, and disappear entirely in some places. It is likely that other more widespread ecosystems will also be vulnerable to climate change. One of the climate scenarios used in this Assessment suggests the potential for the forests of the Southeast to break up into a mosaic of forests, savannas, and grasslands. Climate scenarios suggest likely changes in the species composition of the Northeast forests, including the loss of sugar maples. Major alterations to natural ecosystems due to climate change could possibly have negative consequences for our economy, which depends in part on the sustained bounty of our nation's lands, waters, and native plant and animal communities. This Assessment has identified many remaining uncertainties that limit our ability to fully understand the spectrum of potential consequences of climate change for our nation. To address these uncertainties, additional research is needed to improve understanding of ecological and social processes that are sensitive to climate, application of climate scenarios and reconstructions of past climates to impacts studies, and assessment strategies and methods. Results from these research efforts will inform future assessments that will continue the process of building our understanding of humanity's impacts on climate, and climate's impacts on us."
- Paperback | 534 pages
- 215.9 x 279.4 x 30.73mm | 1,501.38g
- 31 Jan 2015
- United States
- black & white illustrations