More extreme weather predicted in national climate report

February 1, 2013 by Krishna Ramanujan in Earth / Environment

Americans can expect more heat waves, heavy downpours, floods and droughts, sea level rise and ocean acidification, according to a draft national climate assessment report that included two Cornell researchers as lead authors.

David Wolfe, professor of horticulture, was a lead author on a Northeast section, and Drew Harvell, professor of ecology and , was a lead author of an oceans and marine resources section in the Federal Advisory Committee's Draft Climate Assessment Report, released this month.

Overall, the U.S. average temperature has risen by about 1.5 degrees since 1895, but 80 percent of that change has occurred in the last 32 years, according to the report. By the end of the century, temperatures could rise anywhere from 3 to 10 degrees Fahrenheit, depending on human actions, or inaction, to reduce .

The report's Northeast section points to climate-related issues facing 64 million people that live in a region marked by high-density urban, coastal, natural and agricultural areas.

"This document will be an essential science-based resource for decision-makers in our communities and businesses who are rolling up their sleeves to take on the challenges and build resilience to climate change," said Wolfe, who chairs the Climate Change Focus Group at Cornell's Atkinson Center for a Sustainable Future.

Highlights from the section for 12 Northeast states find that:

With regard to the nation's ocean areas and resources, the United States depends heavily on oceans for seafood, recreation and tourism, transportation, and critical resources, according to the report.

"The ocean resources chapter is new this year, reflecting the increasingly significant impacts being catalogued in marine ecosystems, in addition to the coastal impacts described in a separate chapter of the report," said Harvell, associate director for environment at the Atkinson Center.

Over the past century, global sea levels have risen by 8 inches, while average U.S. coastal sea surface temperatures have risen by almost 1 degree Fahrenheit, greatly affecting coral and other ecosystems, while holding heat that will also warm the atmosphere.

Key points from this section include:

Provided by Cornell University

"More extreme weather predicted in national climate report" February 1, 2013