“Earth’s climate is now changing faster than at any point in the history of modern civilization, primarily as a result of human activities. The impacts of global climate change are already being felt in the United States and are projected to intensify in the future—but the severity of future impacts will depend largely on actions taken to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and to adapt to the changes that will occur.” So begins the new National Climate Assessment.
The National Climate Assessment is a quadrennial report from U.S. federal agencies that synthesizes a very detailed understanding about climate change globally and in the United States, according to the best peer-reviewed science available. The 2018 report, released Friday, November 23, describes how the impacts of climate change affect the U.S. now and in the future.
Impacts are not equally felt across all geographic areas of the U.S.: In fact according to a recent economic study, residents in the South (along with those in the Midwest) are likely to suffer the largest economic losses from projected climate change in the country. Looking forward, experts expect much of the Southeast to have a climate similar to South Florida’s tropical climate by mid-21st century. So in this post, let’s focus just on the impacts the report cites for the Southeast.
The new National Climate Assessment focuses on 4 key messages about the Southeast U.S.:
1) Public health in Southeastern urban cities is highly vulnerable to climate impacts like increased heat, flooding, and vector-borne disease;
2) Coastal and low-lying regions are growing more vulnerable to flooding from sea level rise and increasingly intense rainfall;
3) the Southeast’s natural ecosystems will be transformed by climate change impacts including changing winter temperature extremes, wildfire patterns, sea levels, hurricanes, floods, droughts, and warming ocean temperatures; and
4) Rural communities and agricultural and forestry economies will face dangerous extreme heat exposure, along with the associated health impacts and economic losses.