How will climate change affect where you live?

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 One of the interesting aspects of the administration's climate change report released today is  its emphasis on how global warming is affecting or is projected to touch every corner of the United States. A few location-specific details were mentioned in the press conference – how trout in the Northwest can't thrive when air temperatures rise above 70 degrees F., for instance. But an online section offers more localized information: It divides the country into eight areas and lets you click on your region to see possible impacts.

After all, as long-time Monitor science reporter Bob Cowen pointed out in a column yesterday, adapting to climate change depends on site-specific knowledge.

Here's some of what the "Global Climate Change Impacts in the United States" report sees as already happening in various parts of the country and predicts will occur unless changes are made:

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Alaska

– Longer summers and higher temperatures are causing drier conditions, even in the absence of strong trends in precipitation.
– Insect outbreaks and wildfires are increasing with warming.
– Lakes are declining in area.
– Thawing permafrost damages roads, runways, water and sewer systems, and other infrastructure.
– Coastal storms increase risks to villages and fishing fleets.
– Displacement of marine species will affect key fisheries.

Northwest

– Declining springtime snowpack leads to reduced summer streamflows, straining water supplies.
– Increased insect outbreaks, wildfires, and changing species composition in forests will pose challenges for ecosystems and the forest products industry.
– Salmon and other coldwater species will experience additional stresses as a result of rising water temperatures and declining summer streamflows.
– The projected reduction in snow cover will adversely affect winter recreation and the industries that rely upon it.
– Sea-level rise along vulnerable coastlines will result in increased erosion and the loss of land.

Southwest

– Water supplies will become increasingly scarce, calling for trade-offs among competing uses, and potentially leading to conflict.
– Increasing temperature, drought, wildfire, and invasive species will accelerate transformation of the landscape.
– Increased frequency and altered timing of flooding will increase risks to people, ecosystems, and infrastructure.
– Unique tourism and recreation opportunities are likely to suffer.
– Cities and agriculture face increasing risks from a changing climate

Great Plains

–  Projected increases in temperature, evaporation, and drought frequency add to concerns about the region’s declining water resources.
– Agriculture, ranching, and natural lands, already under pressure due to an increasingly limited water supply, are very likely to also be stressed by rising temperatures.
– Climate change is likely to affect native plant and animal species by altering key habitats such as the wetland ecosystems known as prairie potholes or playa lakes.
– Ongoing shifts in the region’s population from rural areas to urban centers will interact with a changing climate, resulting in a variety of consequences.

Midwest

– Projected increases in temperature, evaporation, and drought frequency add to concerns about the region’s declining water resources.
– Agriculture, ranching, and natural lands, already under pressure due to an increasingly limited water supply, are very likely to also be stressed by rising temperatures.
– Climate change is likely to affect native plant and animal species by altering key habitats such as the wetland ecosystems known as prairie potholes or playa lakes.
– Ongoing shifts in the region’s population from rural areas to urban centers will interact with a changing climate, resulting in a variety of consequences.

Northeast

– Extreme heat and declining air quality are likely to pose increasing problems for human health, especially in urban areas.
– Agricultural production, including dairy, fruit, and maple syrup, are likely to be adversely affected as favorable climates shift.
– Severe flooding due to sea-level rise and heavy downpours is likely to occur more frequently.
– The projected reduction in snow cover will adversely affect winter recreation and the industries that rely upon it.
– The center of lobster fisheries is projected to continue its northward shift and the cod fishery on Georges Bank is likely to be diminished.

Southeast

– Projected increases in air and water temperatures will cause heat-related stresses for people, plants, and animals.
– Decreased water availability is very likely to affect the region’s economy as well as its natural systems.
– Sea-level rise and the likely increase in hurricane intensity and associated storm surge will be among the most serious consequences of climate change.
– Ecological thresholds are likely to be crossed throughout the region, causing major disruptions to ecosystems and to the benefits they provide to people.
– Quality of life will be affected by increasing heat stress, water scarcity, severe weather events, and reduced availability of insurance for at-risk properties.

Islands (in the Pacific and the Caribbean)

 – The availability of freshwater is likely to be reduced, with significant implications for island communities, economies, and resources.
– Island communities, infrastructure, and ecosystems are vulnerable to coastal inundation due to sea-level rise and coastal storms.
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