Thursday, July 12, 2007

Global warming will hit U.S. Northeast hard unless action taken now

Union of Concerned Scientists: If heat-trapping emissions are not significantly curtailed, global warming will substantially change critical aspects of the Northeast's character and economy, according to a new report by the Northeast Climate Impacts Assessment (NECIA), a two-year collaboration between the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS) and a team of more than 50 scientists and economists. Near-term choices about energy, transportation, and land-use will largely determine the extent and severity of climate change.

"Global warming represents an enormous challenge, but we can meet it if we act swiftly," said Peter Frumhoff, director of science and policy at UCS and chair of the NECIA team. "Our response to global warming in the next few years will shape the climate our children and grandchildren inherit."

The peer-reviewed report, "Confronting Climate Change in the U.S. Northeast," incorporates and builds on NECIA's 2006 study that described how the climate of the nine Northeast states will change under two scenarios: one that assumes an increase in global warming emissions from continued heavy reliance on fossil fuels, and another that assumes substantially lower emissions due to an increased reliance on clean energy sources. The report documents the projected consequences of each emissions path. It also details what individuals, businesses, and governments can do today to reduce emissions to levels below the lower-emissions scenario and to adapt to the unavoidable changes already set in motion by emissions over the past several decades.

The new report and a complete list of collaborating scientists and economists are available at The report's findings include:

Climate: The two emissions scenarios would lead to starkly different climates when children born today reach middle age. Under the higher-emissions scenario, winters in the Northeast could warm by 8°F to 12°F and summers by 6°F to 14°F above historic levels by late this century. But under the lower-emission scenario, temperatures during Northeast winters are projected to warm only 5°F to 8°F above historic levels by late-century, and summers by just 3°F to 7°F.

Coastlines: Global sea level is conservatively projected to rise 10 to 23 inches under the higher-emissions scenario and 7 to 14 inches under the lower-emissions scenario. Using these estimates, cities such as Boston and Atlantic City can expect a coastal flood equivalent to today's 100-year flood every two to four years on average by mid-century and almost annually by the end of the century under either scenario. New York City is projected to face flooding equivalent to today's 100-year flood once every decade on average under the higher-emissions scenario and once every two decades under the lower-emissions scenario by century's end. Sea-level rise is also projected to increase shoreline erosion and wetland loss, particularly along the vulnerable coasts of Cape Cod, Long Island, and the Jersey Shore.

Some Google News links to stories about the same report.

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