How has climate changed in the U.S. Northeast - and how might it change in the future?

Three big climate impacts we have experienced are:

base-logo-2.svgHotter Temperatures 

base-logo-2.svgMore Rain & Severe Storms

base-logo-2.svgSea Level Rise

 Photo: Cracked Mud: California Drought, (c) Tyler Bell, (CC BY 2.0)

  CREW_Lockups1_Just_Icon_color_use_for_profile_pictures.pngHotter Temperatures:


Figure: Over the coming century, Massachusetts climate is projected to warm, giving it a climate similar to states located in the US South. Yellow shows projected warming in a lower-emissions scenario and red is for a higher-emissions scenario. (Source: Union of Concerned Scientists, 2007).



  • What we’ve seen:
    • Temperatures increased by almost 2°F over the last century
    • Cities tend to be 1-7°F hotter than surrounding areas because of high density and their many dark, hard surfaces (like asphalt)
  • Future Changes:

    • Increases of ~3 to 12°F over next century (depends on uncertainty & emissions levels)
    • Increase in heat waves - number of days over 90°F

 CREW_Lockups1_Just_Icon_color_use_for_profile_pictures.pngMore Rain & Severe Storms:


  • What we’ve seen:
    • Over the last 50 years in the US Northeast, there was an increase of over 50% in the amount of rain that fell in the most extreme (top 1%) of events & an over 90% increase in the number of ‘5-year’ rain events
    • The frequency and severity of hurricanes may also have increased since the 1970s due to factors like increased sea surface temperature

Photo: Damage to Vermont Road from Tropical Storm Irene, 2011 (c) U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (CC BY 2.0).

 CREW_Lockups1_Just_Icon_color_use_for_profile_pictures.pngSea Level Rise:


  • What we’ve seen:

    • Average global sea level has risen ~8 inches over last century

  • Future changes:

    • A projected average increase of 1 to 4 feet by 2100, and up to 8 feet would be possible (depending on emissions and uncertainty)

    • The US Northeast is projected to have a higher-than-average rate of sea level rise

Photo: Damage in Seaside Heights, New Jersey from Superstorm Sandy, 2012 (c) Anthony Quintano, (CC BY 2.0)


Want to learn more? Here are some useful resources: