Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Climate Change Impacts Where Americans Live and Work

18.06.2009
New assessment of national, regional impacts shows challenges ahead for Great Plains.

Climate change is visible and occurring throughout the U.S., but the choices we make now will determine the severity of its impacts in the future, according to a Texas Tech University climate scientist who served as a lead author on a report released today by the White House.

Katharine Hayhoe, a research associate professor in the Department of Geosciences, was one of 31 scientists from 13 U.S. government science agencies, major universities and research institutes that produced the study. In 2007, she was invited to serve as the lead author for the Great Plains chapter of the report, which includes Texas.

“During the next decade or two, we are likely to see an increase of 2 to 3 degrees Fahrenheit across the United States,” Hayhoe said. “How much temperatures rise after that depends primarily on our emissions of heat-trapping gases during the next few decades. Under lower emissions, temperatures could increase 4 to 7.5 degrees. With higher emissions, we can expect 7 to 11 degrees, with the greatest increases in summer.”

Using projections such as these, authors crafted what they call the most comprehensive, plain-language report to date on national climate change. Global Climate Change Impacts in the United States provides the most current information on how climate change is likely to impact key economic sectors and regions of the country. The report spans both the Bush and Obama Administrations.

The study found that Americans already are being affected by climate change through extreme weather, drought and wildfire and details how the nation’s transportation, agriculture, health, water and energy sectors will be affected in the future. The study also found that the current trend in the emission of greenhouse gas pollution is significantly above the worst-case scenario examined in this report.

Hayhoe said heat waves, drought and heavy rainfall events are all expected to become more frequent for much of the nation, including in the Great Plains. Warmer temperatures increase evaporation. Combined with increased risk of drought, this raises concerns about the region’s water supply, already overtaxed in many parts of the Great Plains.

“Water is gold – here in Texas and across the Great Plains,” she said. “Much of it comes from the Ogallala Aquifer, which extends from Nebraska all the way down to West Texas. But on the South Plains, we’re already taking the water out faster than it can replenish, and aquifer levels across the region have dropped by more than 150 feet since irrigation began in the 1950s. Farming and ranching are already under pressure from expanding human development and limited water supply. Climate change will exacerbate these and other existing stresses on our natural environment and our society.”

Rising temperatures likely will further stress farms and ranches, shifting the areas where certain crops are grown, and allowing pests currently confined to the southern parts of the region to expand northward. Rising temperatures also will add to the pressure on the regions grasslands and playa lakes – unique habitats the Great Plains region offers to migrating and local birds as well as other wildlife.

The report emphasizes that the choices we make now will determine the severity of climate change impacts in the future. Earlier reductions in emissions will have a greater effect in reducing climate change than comparable reductions made later.

Main findings for the United States include:

• Heat waves will become more frequent and intense, increasing threats to human health and quality of life. Extreme heat also will affect transportation and energy systems, and crop and livestock production.

• Increased heavy downpours will lead to more flooding, waterborne diseases, negative effects on agriculture, and disruptions to energy, water and transportation systems.

• Reduced summer runoff and increasing water demands will create greater competition for water supplies in some regions, especially in the West.

• Rising water temperatures and ocean acidification threaten coral reefs and the rich ecosystems they support.

• Insect infestations and wildfires already are increasing and are projected to increase further in a warming climate.

• Local sea-level rise of more than three feet on top of storm surges will increasingly threaten homes and other coastal infrastructure. Coastal flooding will become more frequent and severe, and coastal land will be lost to the rising seas.

Hayhoe has led climate impact assessments for California, the Northeast, Chicago, and also contributed to the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

A product of the interagency U.S. Global Change Research Program and led by National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the definitive 190-page report is intended to better inform members of the public and policymakers. It is available at www.globalchange.gov/usimpacts.

CONTACT: Katharine Hayhoe, associate professor, Department of Geosciences, Texas Tech University, (806) 392-1900, or katharine.hayhoe@ttu.edu

John Davis | Newswise Science News
Further information:
http://www.ttu.edu

More articles from Ecology, The Environment and Conservation:

nachricht Litter is present throughout the world’s oceans: 1,220 species affected
27.03.2017 | Alfred-Wegener-Institut, Helmholtz-Zentrum für Polar- und Meeresforschung

nachricht International network connects experimental research in European waters
21.03.2017 | Leibniz-Institut für Gewässerökologie und Binnenfischerei (IGB)

All articles from Ecology, The Environment and Conservation >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: A Challenging European Research Project to Develop New Tiny Microscopes

The Institute of Semiconductor Technology and the Institute of Physical and Theoretical Chemistry, both members of the Laboratory for Emerging Nanometrology (LENA), at Technische Universität Braunschweig are partners in a new European research project entitled ChipScope, which aims to develop a completely new and extremely small optical microscope capable of observing the interior of living cells in real time. A consortium of 7 partners from 5 countries will tackle this issue with very ambitious objectives during a four-year research program.

To demonstrate the usefulness of this new scientific tool, at the end of the project the developed chip-sized microscope will be used to observe in real-time...

Im Focus: Giant Magnetic Fields in the Universe

Astronomers from Bonn and Tautenburg in Thuringia (Germany) used the 100-m radio telescope at Effelsberg to observe several galaxy clusters. At the edges of these large accumulations of dark matter, stellar systems (galaxies), hot gas, and charged particles, they found magnetic fields that are exceptionally ordered over distances of many million light years. This makes them the most extended magnetic fields in the universe known so far.

The results will be published on March 22 in the journal „Astronomy & Astrophysics“.

Galaxy clusters are the largest gravitationally bound structures in the universe. With a typical extent of about 10 million light years, i.e. 100 times the...

Im Focus: Tracing down linear ubiquitination

Researchers at the Goethe University Frankfurt, together with partners from the University of Tübingen in Germany and Queen Mary University as well as Francis Crick Institute from London (UK) have developed a novel technology to decipher the secret ubiquitin code.

Ubiquitin is a small protein that can be linked to other cellular proteins, thereby controlling and modulating their functions. The attachment occurs in many...

Im Focus: Perovskite edges can be tuned for optoelectronic performance

Layered 2D material improves efficiency for solar cells and LEDs

In the eternal search for next generation high-efficiency solar cells and LEDs, scientists at Los Alamos National Laboratory and their partners are creating...

Im Focus: Polymer-coated silicon nanosheets as alternative to graphene: A perfect team for nanoelectronics

Silicon nanosheets are thin, two-dimensional layers with exceptional optoelectronic properties very similar to those of graphene. Albeit, the nanosheets are less stable. Now researchers at the Technical University of Munich (TUM) have, for the first time ever, produced a composite material combining silicon nanosheets and a polymer that is both UV-resistant and easy to process. This brings the scientists a significant step closer to industrial applications like flexible displays and photosensors.

Silicon nanosheets are thin, two-dimensional layers with exceptional optoelectronic properties very similar to those of graphene. Albeit, the nanosheets are...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

International Land Use Symposium ILUS 2017: Call for Abstracts and Registration open

20.03.2017 | Event News

CONNECT 2017: International congress on connective tissue

14.03.2017 | Event News

ICTM Conference: Turbine Construction between Big Data and Additive Manufacturing

07.03.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Researchers shoot for success with simulations of laser pulse-material interactions

29.03.2017 | Materials Sciences

Igniting a solar flare in the corona with lower-atmosphere kindling

29.03.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

As sea level rises, much of Honolulu and Waikiki vulnerable to groundwater inundation

29.03.2017 | Earth Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>