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:
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:
- 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
- The frequency of heavy downpours is projected to increase; and the most intense storms will likely also increase in frequency and severity
- Extreme Precipitation is expected to increase by 7% in the coming decades (2021 IPCC Report)
- But there’s also an increased risk for drought in the summer and fall
Sea Level Rise:
According to the 2021 IPCC Report:
What we’ve seen:
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
- Much of sea level rise is locked in, even if emissions go down. (2021 IPCC Report) That's why adaptation is so important.
Want to learn more? Here are some useful resources:
- U.S. Global Change Research Program Climate Science Special Report (CSSR), June 28, 2017
- Northeast Regional Impacts, 2014 National Climate Assessment, US Global Climate Change Program
- Climate Change 2014 Synthesis Report: Summary for Policymakers, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC)
- Fourth National Climate Assessment, November 23, 2018