Jump to main content or area navigation.

Contact Us

Climate Change

Northeast

Adaptation Examples in the Northeast

Map of the Northeast, including Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Connecticut, New York, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Delaware, Maryland, and West Virginia.

Adaptation Examples in the Northeast

Key Points
  • Philadelphia developed a comprehensive plan to prevent heat-related deaths that uses public announcements, cooling centers, a hotline, and home visits.
  • Keene, New Hampshire is using information about climate change to foster business development and create job retraining programs for workers in industries that could be negatively affected by projected warming.
  • New York City is working with FEMA to update flood zones, partnering with residents to plant a million trees, and encouraging builders to use green infrastructure to reduce the impact of climate change in the city.
  • The EPA Climate Ready Estuaries program is helping communities in the Northeast develop plans to protect coastal resources.
Related Links

Connecticut

Delaware

Maine

Maryland

Massachusetts

New Hampshire

New Jersey

New York

Pennsylvania

Vermont

Federal and Regional

Efforts to prepare for climate change are underway in the Northeast. The region will likely face a variety of impacts from climate change, including more frequent heat waves, increases in intense precipitation, and sea level rise. Learn more about climate change impacts in the Northeast in the Northeast Impacts section.

Below are examples of ongoing efforts to adapt to climate change impacts in the Northeast, followed by links to a number of adaptation plans, reports, and studies specific to the region. Both the examples and links are intended to be illustrative, not comprehensive.

Philadelphia prevents heat related deaths

Photograph of a doctor visiting a patient.

The Philadelphia "Heatline" answers caller's health questions and sends Health Department staff on home visits when necessary.
Source: City of Philadelphia Public Health (2010) Exit EPA Disclaimer

In 1991, Philadelphia created a Heat Task Force to develop a plan to prevent heat-related deaths. In 1995, the Heat Task Force launched the Philadelphia Hot Weather Health Watch and Warning System (PDF), which uses many techniques to protect residents from extreme heat. Some techniques that have been employed include using the media to warn and educate the public about pending extreme heat events, offering an emergency hotline, providing daytime shelter hours and increasing outreach to homeless people. [1] The Philadelphia program demonstrates how coordinating simple steps can minimize the impact of extreme heat events. According to several studies (see here Link to EPA's External Link Disclaimer and here Link to EPA's External Link Disclaimer ), Philadelphia experienced fewer heat-attributable excess deaths after beginning its program.

For more information on the health impacts of heat waves, please visit the Health Impacts section of the Health Impacts & Adaptation page. For more information on adaptation measures for heat waves, please visit the Health Adaptation section of the Health Impacts & Adaptation page.

Top of page

City of Keene releases a Climate Resilience Action Plan

Photograph of flooded street in a residential neighborhood.

The October 2005 flooding caused millions of dollars of damage in Keene, NH. Source: Ready NH(2005) Exit EPA Disclaimer

Keene, a small city in Southwest New Hampshire, was the first municipality to pilot ICLEI's Climate Resilient Communities (PDF) Exit EPA Disclaimer program. [2] After flooding in 2005 caused millions of dollars of damage, the City of Keene decided to expand climate protection efforts to include adaptation. [2] Keene convened a climate adaptation committee and included an adaptation approach in its Climate Resilient Action Plan (PDF) Exit EPA Disclaimer . The plan has several initiatives, including: identify the 200-year floodplain and prevent future development in these areas to reduce flood risk; assess the need for new culvert capacity, identify existing and future potential animal migration routes to protect wildlife; and establish retraining, scholarship, and loan programs for residents whose businesses are impacted by climate change (such as snowplowing and maple sugar farming). [2]

For more information about adaptation measures for flooding, visit the Water Resources Impacts & Adaptation page; for wildlife habitat, visit the Ecosystems Impacts & Adaptation page; and for the economy, visit the Society Impacts & Adaptation page.

Top of page

New York City prepares for climate change

New York City developed PlaNYC Exit EPA Disclaimer , a comprehensive plan to help the city respond to the complex demands of a growing population, aging infrastructure, changing climate, and evolving economy. [3] In 2008, the mayor convened the New York City Panel on Climate Change (NPCC) to advise the city on the best available science on climate change. Based on the NPCC recommendations, among other activities, the city has:

Volunteers carrying trees for planting.

Volunteers have helped New York City plant the first half a million trees scheduled to be planted by 2017.
Source: MillionTreesNYC (2012) Link to EPA's External Link Disclaimer

Top of page

Massachusetts wastewater treatment plant plans for sea level rise

The Massachusetts Water Resources Authority incorporated sea level rise into plans for building a wastewater treatment plant on Deer Island in Boston Harbor. The plant processes raw sewage and stormwater from on-shore communities. Since releasing the treated water is done through gravity outflow, the relative level of the treatment facility to the water level is essential. Despite the initial additional costs of building the facility 1.9 feet higher than initially planned, this will eliminate the need to construct a costly seawall and change the discharge processing. [4]

Top of page

EPA works with water utilities and estuaries to protect the region

EPA's Climate Ready Water Utilities initiative provides resources for water utilities to develop plans to adapt to changes in the water supply. For example:

  • Climate Ready Water Utilities and EPA's Climate Ready Estuaries program brought the North Hudson Sewerage Authority and New York/New Jersey National Estuary Program together to jointly assess their climate risks and begin developing adaptation plans.
  • New York City Department of Environmental Protection assessed its wastewater treatment plant's risk to climate change impacts while piloting the Climate Resilience Evaluation and Awareness Tool (CREAT) in fall 2010.

EPA's Climate Ready Estuaries program supports coastal resource managers in preparing for the impacts of climate change. EPA has partnered with several National Estuary Programs in the Northeast to assess climate change vulnerabilities, develop and implement adaptation strategies, engage and educate stakeholders, and share the lessons learned with other coastal managers. For example:

EPA's Climate Ready Water Utilities and Climate Ready Estuaries initiatives are working to coordinate their efforts and support climate change risk assessment and adaptation planning. The impacts of climate change can extend beyond the traditional assets of a utility and current watershed management practices may not be sufficient to cope with potential effects on aquatic ecosystems, water supply reliability, water quality, and coastal flood risk.

References

[1] EPA (2006). Excessive Heat Events Guidebook (PDF). U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Washington, DC, USA.

[2] City of Keene and ICLEI (2007). Keene, New Hampshire — Adapting to Climate Change: Planning a Climate Resilient Community (PDF) Exit EPA Disclaimer . City of Keene, ICLEI.

[3] The City of New York (2011). PlaNYC Update April 2011 — A Greener, Greater New York (PDF) Exit EPA Disclaimer . The City of New York.

[4] USGCRP (2009). Global Climate Change Impacts in the United States . Karl, T. R., J. M. Melillo, and T. C. Peterson (eds.). United States Global Change Research Program. Cambridge University Press, New York, NY, USA.

Top of page

Basic Information Greenhouse Gas Emissions Science What EPA is Doing What You Can Do
blank Overview of Gases Overview Evaluating Policy Options, Costs, and Benefits At Home
Newsroom Sources of Emissions Causes of Climate Change Regulatory Initiatives On the Road
blank Global Data Indicators of Climate Change Voluntary Programs In the Office
Related Links National Data Future Climate Change State, Local, and Tribal Partnerships At School
blank Facility Data blank blank blank Glossary Individual Calculator blank blank Climate Connections
blank blank Climate Change Impacts and Adapting to Change International Partnerships Clean Energy
Students' Site blank blank blank Climate and Transportation
blank blank blank blank Climate and Water
blank blank blank blank Climate and Waste
blank blank blank blank EPA Climate Science Research

Jump to main content.