A climate change study released just this month by a team of researchers led by Dr. Raymond Bradley and Dr. Ambarish Karmalkar at the University of Massachusetts – Amherst claims that temperatures in the Northeast are increasing faster than in other parts of the United States and most of the rest of the world.
The climate change study finds that the Northeast portion of the US will warm 50% faster than the planet as a whole. The researchers also suggest that the United States will reach 2 degrees Celsius warmer temperatures 10 to 20 years before the planet as a whole.
The report introduces a new factor into the climate change scenario — local variations. Traditionally, people tend to think of global warming as something that is happening equally and evenly around the globe. In fact, great regional differences are occurring and will continue to occur.
Warmer air leads to higher rainfall. The study shows rainfall levels are increasing in many area of the US, particularly in the Northeast. While some may assume that is good news for farmers, the kind of rainfall that is happening tends to lead to flooding and erosion rather then higher crop yields.
The research suggests winters in the the Northeast region will become warmer with more rain and less snow. Again, that may sound like good news to some, but the reality is that snow evens out the distribution of moisture over time.
Heavy rains tend to simply lead to floods that remove the moisture from the land before it can be used to irrigate crops or replenish wells and reservoirs. It may seem perverse that flooding can lead to droughts but that is the net effect of more heavy rain. Warmer summer months will put more stress on ecosystems and aggravate drought conditions.
The research is useful because it abandons the typical focus on average temperatures worldwide. Some areas will be significantly hotter, while others may actually be cooler than normal. The study provides reasons why we need to be aware of both global and the regional climate effects.
Even if human beings as a whole are successful at keeping average global temperatures from rising more than 2 degrees Celsius on average, there still may be very significant alterations in traditional weather patterns in some regions. Those alterations will bring with them consequences that need to be planned for and addressed.
Unfortunately, Donald Trump is intent on eliminating NASA’s role in measuring climate change activity around the world. This means that important information needed by researchers like Dr. Bradley and Dr. Karmalkar will likely be unavailable, making future climate study much more difficult.
Source: The Guardian | Image credit: NASA