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Climate Change in Vermont


Over the last century, the average temperature in Burlington, Vermont, has increased 0.4°F, and precipitation has increased by up to 5 percent in many parts of the state. These past trends may or may not continue into the future.

Over the next century, Vermont’s climate may change even more. For example, based on projections made by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and results from the United Kingdom Hadley Centre climate model (HadCM2), a model that accounts for both greenhouse gases and aerosols, by 2100 temperatures in Vermont could increase by 4°F (with a range of 2-9°F) in spring and 5°F (with a range of 2-10°F) in the other seasons. Precipitation is projected to show little change in spring, to increase by about 10% in summer and fall (with a range of 5-20 percent), and by 30 percent (with a range of 10-50 percent) in winter.

Other climate models may show different results, especially regarding estimated changes in precipitation. The impacts described in the sections that follow take into account estimates from different models. The amount of precipitation on extreme wet or snowy days in winter is likely to increase. The frequency of extreme hot days in summer would increase because of the general warming trend. Although it is not clear how the severity of storms might be affected, an increase in the frequency and intensity of winter storms is possible.

To limit the impact of climate change on Vermont and Vermonters, we at the Agency of Natural Resources must play a pivotal role in informing, educating and empowering citizens to reduce their emissions of greenhouse gases, including carbon dioxide (CO2).

Vermont Vehicles – A BIG Part of the Problem

There are more than 500,000 vehicles registered in the state of Vermont. Each of these vehicles produces air emissions that include greenhouse gases which contribute to climate change. According to our own Web site maintained by the Air Pollution Control Division:

chart: vehicle miles traveled in Vermont

• Motor vehicles are the largest source of toxic and carcinogenic air pollutants in Vermont. Each year, motor vehicles emit about 1,000 tons of toxic and carcinogenic compounds like benzene, formaldehyde, and 1,3-Butadiene.

• Motor vehicles are the largest source (about 65 percent) of ozone-forming pollutants in Vermont. Each year vehicles emit over 117,000 tons of carbon monoxide, 10,000 tons of hydrocarbons, and 14,000 tons of nitrogen oxides.

• The average vehicle emits about half a ton of air pollution each year.

• A vehicle with a malfunctioning or faulty emission control system can emit over 800 percent more air pollution than a properly operating vehicle.

• As industries have reduced their emissions, motor vehicles have become an increasing portion of the air pollution created in Vermont.

• The number of vehicles and the miles they travel are increasing. Motor vehicles now travel over 6 billion miles annually in Vermont, double the amount traveled in 1972.

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