USGS Climate Change Report

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According to a USGS report, the effects of climate change will continue to threaten U.S. coastal communities, including those in the Mid Atlantic states.

The report emphasizes the need for increased coordination and planning to ensure U.S. coastal communities are resilient against the effects of climate change.

The report, Coastal Impacts, Adaptation, and Vulnerabilities: a technical input to the 2013 National Climate Assessment, is being used as a technical input to the third National Climate Assessment.

The comprehensive study was authored by seventy-nine federal, academic, and other scientists, including the lead authors from the NOAA and USGS.

Findings of the report include:

The report cites storm surge flooding and sea-level rise as significant threats to public and private infrastructure that provides energy, sewage treatment, clean water and transportation of people and goods.

Expected public health impacts include a decline in seafood quality, shifts in disease patterns and increases in rates of heat-related morbidity.

Changes in the location and the time of year when storms form can lead to large changes in where storms land and the impacts of storms. Any sea-level rise is virtually certain to exacerbate storm-surge and flooding related hazards.

Because of changes in the hydrological cycle due to warming, precipitation events (rain, snow) will likely be heavier. Combined with sea-level rise and storm surge, this will increase flooding severity in some coastal areas, particularly in the Northeast.

As the physical environment changes, the range of a particular ecosystem will expand, contract or migrate in response. The combined influence of many stresses can cause unexpected ecological changes if species, populations or ecosystems are pushed beyond a tipping point.

Although adaptation planning activities in the coastal zone are increasing, they generally occur in an ad-hoc manner and are slow to be implemented. Efficiency of adaptation can be improved through more accurate and timely scientific information, tools, and resources, and by integrating adaptation plans into overall land use planning as well as ocean and coastal management.

An integrated scientific program will reduce uncertainty about the best ways coastal communities can to respond to sea-level rise and other kinds of coastal change. This, in turn, will allow communities to better assess their vulnerability and to identify and implement appropriate adaptation and preparedness options.

The interagency report is produced for Congress once every four years to summarize the science and impacts of climate change on the United States.

source: U.S. Geological Survey

Published: February 21, 2013 | Updated: February 1, 2018