Climate Change Impacts in EPA Region 8
A recent report by the U.S. Global Change Research Program titled Global Climate Change Impacts in the United States - June 2009, summarizes the science and the impacts of climate change in the United States, now and in the future. It focuses on climate change impacts in different regions of the U.S., and on various sectors such as energy, water, agriculture, and health. It is written in plain language, with the goal of better informing decision-making at all levels.
Great Plains Key Issues:
- Projected increases in temperature, evaporation, and drought frequency add to concerns about the region’s declining water resources.
- Agriculture, ranching, and natural lands, already under pressure due to an increasingly limited water supply, are very likely to also be stressed by rising temperatures.
- Climate change is likely to affect native plant and animal species by altering key habitats such as the wetland ecosystems known as prairie potholes or playa lakes.
- Ongoing shifts in the region’s population from rural areas to urban centers will interact with a changing climate, resulting in a variety of consequences.
Southwest Key Issues:
- Water supplies will become increasingly scarce, calling for trade-offs among competing uses, and potentially leading to conflict.
- Increasing temperature, drought, wildfire, and invasive species will accelerate transformation of the landscape.
- Increased frequency and altered timing of flooding will increase risks to people, ecosystems, and infrastructure.
- Unique tourism and recreation opportunities are likely to suffer.
- Cities and agriculture face increasing risks from a changing climate.
The average temperature in the Southwest has already increased roughly 1.5°F compared to a 1960-1979 baseline period. By the end of the century, average annual temperature is projected to rise approximately 4°F to 10°F above the historical baseline, averaged over the Southwest region. The brackets on the thermometers represent the likely range of model projections, though lower or higher outcomes are possible.
For more information on climate change impacts in the U.S., please visit the United States Global Change Research Program website at: