Global Climate Change Impacts in the United States: a state of knowledge report from the U.S. Global Change Research Program

Karl, Thomas R. and Melillo, Jerry M. and Peterson, Thomas C. (eds.) (2009) Global Climate Change Impacts in the United States: a state of knowledge report from the U.S. Global Change Research Program. New York, Cambridge University Press,

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Abstract

Executive Summary: Observations show that warming of the climate is unequivocal. The global warming observed over the past 50 years is due primarily to human-induced emissions of heat-trapping gases. These emissions come mainly from the burning of fossil fuels (coal, oil, and gas), with important contributions from the clearing of forests, agricultural practices, and other activities. Warming over this century is projected to be considerably greater than over the last century. The global average temperature since 1900 has risen by about 1.5ºF. By 2100, it is projected to rise another 2 to 11.5ºF. The U.S. average temperature has risen by a comparable amount and is very likely to rise more than the global average over this century, with some variation from place to place. Several factors will determine future temperature increases. Increases at the lower end of this range are more likely if global heat-trapping gas emissions are cut substantially. If emissions continue to rise at or near current rates, temperature increases are more likely to be near the upper end of the range. Volcanic eruptions or other natural variations could temporarily counteract some of the human-induced warming, slowing the rise in global temperature, but these effects would only last a few years. Reducing emissions of carbon dioxide would lessen warming over this century and beyond. Sizable early cuts in emissions would significantly reduce the pace and the overall amount of climate change. Earlier cuts in emissions would have a greater effect in reducing climate change than comparable reductions made later. In addition, reducing emissions of some shorter-lived heat-trapping gases, such as methane, and some types of particles, such as soot, would begin to reduce warming within weeks to decades. Climate-related changes have already been observed globally and in the United States. These include increases in air and water temperatures, reduced frost days, increased frequency and intensity of heavy downpours, a rise in sea level, and reduced snow cover, glaciers, permafrost, and sea ice. A longer ice-free period on lakes and rivers, lengthening of the growing season, and increased water vapor in the atmosphere have also been observed. Over the past 30 years, temperatures have risen faster in winter than in any other season, with average winter temperatures in the Midwest and northern Great Plains increasing more than 7ºF. Some of the changes have been faster than previous assessments had suggested. These climate-related changes are expected to continue while new ones develop. Likely future changes for the United States and surrounding coastal waters include more intense hurricanes with related increases in wind, rain, and storm surges (but not necessarily an increase in the number of these storms that make landfall), as well as drier conditions in the Southwest and Caribbean. These changes will affect human health, water supply, agriculture, coastal areas, and many other aspects of society and the natural environment. This report synthesizes information from a wide variety of scientific assessments (see page 7) and recently published research to summarize what is known about the observed and projected consequences of climate change on the United States. It combines analysis of impacts on various sectors such as energy, water, and transportation at the national level with an assessment of key impacts on specific regions of the United States. For example, sea-level rise will increase risks of erosion, storm surge damage, and flooding for coastal communities, especially in the Southeast and parts of Alaska. Reduced snowpack and earlier snow melt will alter the timing and amount of water supplies, posing significant challenges for water resource management in the West. (PDF contains 196 pages)

Item Type: Monograph or Serial Issue
Title: Global Climate Change Impacts in the United States: a state of knowledge report from the U.S. Global Change Research Program
Editors:
EditorsEmail
Karl, Thomas R.
Melillo, Jerry M.
Peterson, Thomas C.
Date: 2009
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Place of Publication: New York
Institution: NOAA/National Climatic Data Center
Issuing Agency: United States Global Change Research Program
Subjects: Conservation
Management
Pollution
Earth Sciences
Environment
Policies
Item ID: 2263
Depositing User: Patti M. Marraro
Date Deposited: 18 Jun 2009 00:02
Last Modified: 29 Sep 2011 19:23
URI: http://aquaticcommons.org/id/eprint/2263

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