Climate Change Impact in Northeastern United States

“Many important economic and social decisions are being made today on long-term projects…based on the assumption that past climate data…are a reliable guide to the future. This is no longer a good assumption…”

UNEP/WMO/ICSU Conference Villach, Austria 1985

I like this quote taken from the corporate website of Syntectic. The company hosted a symposium - Preparing New England for Climate Change: From National Policy to Local Action – with Antioch University New England, and the Lake Sunapee Protective Association (LSPA) to “assess the status of national and international adaptation programs, and the role of state and local action.”

When we think of climate change, our first images are usually places like Texas and Australia or regions in China and, of course, the vast sub-Saharan region of Africa’s Sahel. If only that were true. Unfortunately, climate change is a thoroughly global phenomenon. Atmospheric and oceanic movements circulate in very predictable patterns. This predictability allows for some predictive forecasting – not necessarily with a micro-level of sensitivity but with some macro-level accuracy.

When I was much younger, I can remember harsh, Mid-Atlantic regional winter storms. Everything seems bigger and bolder to a child. Today, weather pattern changes have less to do my age than with a warming climate.

This post is a small view at how these changes might affect the New England region of the Northeastern United States. Changes are occurring to snow pack and river/lakes ice melt. Studies indicate that the cause for these changes are likely to be higher air temperatures which affect the rain to snow ratio and earlier snowpack melting.

The simple fact is that climate science is complex and inter-disciplinary. There are important implications to these warming trend changes. Disaster preparedness is based on the reliability and predictability of winter to spring lake and river changes. There can be ecological consequences effecting such things as fish spawning to environmental challenges with storm-water and sewage management.

The following article - New Englanders Adapt to Winter Climate Change  – is a very good analysis of the intricate interaction between warming temperatures, melting snow and ice (atmospheric moisture) and increasing quantities of exposed ground surface area (“snow-ice albedo feedback”).

The New England of today will not likely be the New England of the future. The question is how far in the future and how fast will these changes occur?

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