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Regional Climate Impacts

This page is updated periodically and aims to provide information for higher education on the current and expected climate for each region. Most of the information is taken from the U.S. National Climate Assessment (NCA), which is a preferred source for signatories to use for more information. In the NCA, you can find highlights for each region as well as more in-depth climate, adaptation, mitigation and other information.Unless otherwise specified images are courtesy of the NCA (2014).

National Overview

Major Concerns

  • Climate change impacts already being felt across the country
  • Heavy downpours are increasing nationally
  • US average temperature increased over the last century
  • The most recent decade was the warmest on record
  • Winter storms have increased in frequency and intensity since the 1950s

Special Notes for the Nation

  • Second largest producer of CO2 emissions globally (after China)
  • 3rd most populous country after China and India (approx 320 million people  in 2015) (U.S. Census Bureau)
  • Population growth approximately 0.8%/year (World Bank)

NCA3_Fig.2.18 NCA3_Fig.2.7 NCA3_Fig.2.26

Links

National Climate Assessment Global and National overview chapter: http://s3.amazonaws.com/nca2014/low/NCA3_Full_Report_02_Our_Changing_Climate_LowRes.pdf?download=1

Northeast

Major Concerns:

  • heatwaves
  • coastal sea level rise
  • hurricanes and remnant hurricanes
  • heavy precipitation and river flooding
    • This region shows more than a 70% increase in the amount of precipitation falling in very heavy events – the highest increase of all regions in the U.S.

Special Notes for the Region:

  • Densely populated in coastal corridor (68 million people for the region as a whole)
  • Aging infrastructure
  • Significant urban and rural populations
  • Congested transportation routes in urban areas
  • low lying coast in many areas

NCA3_Fig.16.2 NCA3_Fig.16.1

Links

National Climate Assessment regional brochure: http://www.globalchange.gov/sites/globalchange/files/Regional_NE_V4.pdf

National Climate Assessment regional full chapter: http://nca2014.globalchange.gov/system/files_force/downloads/low/NCA3_Full_Report_16_Northeast_LowRes.pdf?download=1

Southeast and Caribbean

Major Concerns

  • Coastal sea level rise
  • heatwaves and high temperatures
  • drought
  • hurricanes
  • Severe storms
  • Increasing heavy precipitation

Special Notes for the Region

  • The SE has been hit by more billion dollar disasters than any other region
  • Fast-growing metropolitan areas
  • Major ports and energy production (oil & gas)
  • The region uses the most energy of all the U.S. regions

NCA3_Fig.17.4 NCA3_Fig.17.1 NCA3_Fig.17.6

Links

National Climate Assessment regional brochure: http://www.globalchange.gov/sites/globalchange/files/Regional_SE_V2.pdf

National Climate Assessment regional full chapter: http://nca2014.globalchange.gov/system/files_force/downloads/low/NCA3_Full_Report_17_Southeast_LowRes.pdf?download=1

Midwest

Major Concerns

  • Heatwaves and high temperatures
  • heavy rainfall and flooding
  • poor air and water quality
  • Severe winter and summer storms

Special Notes for the Region

  • An important agricultural region, impacts to crops are likely to be negative in the long-term, though there may be short-term benefits with increased growing season and CO2
  • Changes in lake ice on the Great Lakes, impacts local lake habitat, navigation, erosion, and also humidity, snow, and other climate factors for the Great Lakes area, parts of the Northeast, and Ohio Valley
  • This region uses 20% more energy per capita that the U.S. National average

NCA3_Fig.18.2 NCA3_Fig.18.7NCA3_Fig.18.3

Links

National Climate Assessment regional brochure:http://www.globalchange.gov/sites/globalchange/files/Regional_MW_V2.pdf

National Climate Assessment regional full chapter: http://nca2014.globalchange.gov/system/files_force/downloads/low/NCA3_Full_Report_18_Midwest_LowRes.pdf?download=1

Great Plains

Major Concerns

  • heatwaves, hot days, and increasing temperatures
  • heavy precipitation and variability in timing
  • northern Great Plains likely getting wetter, southern Great Plains, drier.
  • drought
  • winter storms

Special Notes for the Region

  • Important agriculture and ranching region
  • Some large cities, but largely rural
  • Significant tribal lands
  • International borders
  • Prairie habitat

 NCA3_Fig.19.2 NCA3_Fig.19.5 NCA3_Fig.19.8

Links

National Climate Assessment regional brochure: http://www.globalchange.gov/sites/globalchange/files/Regional_GP_V6.pdf

National Climate Assessment regional full chapter: http://nca2014.globalchange.gov/system/files_force/downloads/low/NCA3_Full_Report_19_Great_Plains_LowRes.pdf?download=1

Southwest

Major Concerns

  • drought, snowpack, and water supply/quality
  • heatwaves, hot days
  • intense precipitation and flooding
  • unpredictable monsoon
  • coastal sea level rise
  • wildfires

Special Notes for the Region

  • Some of the fastest growing cities in the nation
  • More than 90% of the regional population is urban
  • More than half of the U.S. high value specialty crops are grown in the SW.

NCA3_Fig.20.2 NCA3_Fig.20.1

Links

National Climate Assessment regional brochure: http://www.globalchange.gov/sites/globalchange/files/Regional_SW_V2.pdf

National Climate Assessment regional full chapter: http://nca2014.globalchange.gov/system/files_force/downloads/low/NCA3_Full_Report_20_Southwest_LowRes.pdf?download=1

Northwest

Major Concerns

  • wildfire
  • ocean acidity and sea level rise
  • streamflow and snowpack (especially timing)
  • heatwaves and hot days

Special Notes for the Region

  • Important riverine and coastal habitat for salmon, oysters (and other fresh and salt water species)
  • many Native American tribes
  • reliance on seasonal water flow patterns (ecology and water supply)
  • heavily forested region with wide variation in topography

NCA3_Fig.21.2 NCA3_Fig.21.4

Links

National Climate Assessment regional brochure: http://www.globalchange.gov/sites/globalchange/files/Regional_NW_V2.pdf

National Climate Assessment regional full chapter:

http://nca2014.globalchange.gov/system/files_force/downloads/low/NCA3_Full_Report_21_Northwest_LowRes.pdf?download=1

Alaska

Major Concerns

  • rapid warming
  • permafrost melting
  • sea ice decline and erosion
  • ocean temperatures and acidity
  • wildfires

Special Notes for the Region

  • strong tradition and economic importance of fishing, hunting
  • heavily forested
  • rural and large region, transportation challenges
  • Arctic habitat
  • low population density

NCA3_Fig.22.5 NCA3_Fig.22.2 NCA3_Fig.22.1

Links

National Climate Assessment regional brochure: http://www.globalchange.gov/sites/globalchange/files/Regional_AK_V2.pdf

National Climate Assessment regional full chapter: http://nca2014.globalchange.gov/system/files_force/downloads/low/NCA3_Full_Report_22_Alaska_LowRes.pdf?download=1

Hawaii/Pacific Islands

Major Concerns

  • Ocean temperatures and acidification
  • increasing temperature
  • reduced rainfall and water supply
  • Sea level rise, erosion, and saltwater intrusion (aquifers)

Special Notes for the Region

  • More than 2000 islands in millions of square miles of ocean
  • both high elevation and low-lying islands
  • food security concerns – limited land for production and potable water
  • mangrove and coral habitat concerns
  • heavy reliance on tourism
  • endemic species
  • limited adaptation potential for species

NCA3_Fig.23.3 NCA3_Fig.23.4 NCA3_Fig.23.8

Links

National Climate Assessment regional brochure: http://www.globalchange.gov/sites/globalchange/files/Regional_HI_V2.pdf

National Climate Assessment regional full chapter: http://nca2014.globalchange.gov/system/files_force/downloads/low/NCA3_Full_Report_23_Hawaii_Pacific_Islands_LowRes.pdf?download=1

Coasts

Major Concerns

  • sea level rise
  • ocean acidification
  • erosion
  • storm surge

Special Notes for the Region

  • densely populated in many coastal regions
  • costs of impact are high (real estate value high)
  • Most major cities are on coasts
  • nationally-important assets – ports, fishing, tourism, energy processing
  • water supply, energy infrastructure and evacuation routes all vulnerable
  • many coastal environments in the U.S. have been significantly altered by human activity – this can reduce potential for natural adaptation

Links

National Climate Assessment regional brochure:

National Climate Assessment regional full chapter: http://nca2014.globalchange.gov/system/files_force/downloads/low/NCA3_Full_Report_25_Coasts_LowRes.pdf?download=1

NCA3_Fig.25.1 NCA3_Fig.25.3 NCA3_Fig.25.9

Additional Resources

National Climate Assessment:

Additional Government pages: