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Climate Change - Impacts

If the magnitude of global warming is consistent with the mid- or upper-range of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) simulations, serious and damaging societal and ecological impacts are likely to result. Higher latitudes are predicted to see greater temperature increases than lower latitudes, especially during winter and spring. The IPCC predicts rising sea levels, increased rainfall rates and heavy precipitation events (especially over the higher latitudes) and higher evaporation rates that would accelerate the drying of soils following rain events. With higher sea levels, coastal regions could face increased wind and flood damage, and some models predict an increase the intensity of tropical storms. 

Regional and state impacts are harder to predict than large regional or global impacts.  Regional models indicate these possible impacts in Vermont:

  • Warmer temperatures could promote formation of smog.  Heat and sunlight speed up the chemical reaction that causes man-made pollutants, nitrogen oxides to combine with volatile organic compounds, to form smog.  
  • Climate change could bring warmer, wetter days which are ideal conditions for some insects and diseases that could find it easier to migrate and survive in  Vermont.  
  • Vermont's forests could be significantly altered, with pine and oak replacing trees that bring breathtaking colors when autumn arrives.  
  • Warmer temperatures could reduce the sap tapping season and the quality of maple syrup, with consequent damage to Vermont's economy.

Even if global average temperature increases in the year 2100 are in the lower-range of the IPCC scenarios, the models project ongoing increases in temperatures and sea levels well beyond the end of this century. Thus the eventual impacts may be delayed but not avoided. 

For more information on climate change impacts at the regiona, national, and international levels, see:
New England Regional Climate Variability and Change Assessment

Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
National Research Council, Climate Change Science: An Analysis of Some Key Questions (2001)
Center for Health and the Global Environment, Climate Change Futures: Health, Ecological, and Economic Dimensions, Harvard Medical School, November 2005

 



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