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Most regions of the United States are projected to experience a higher frequency of severe droughts and longer dry periods as a result of a warming climate. 1 In 2016, USDA Forest Service (USDA-FS) scientists and partners prepared a state-of-the-science synthesis of drought effects on the nation’s forests designed to inform drought resilience and adaptation efforts. A new volume released in 2019 builds on that work, linking recent scientific evidence with regionally focused discussions of risks, vulnerabilities, and management options to minimize drought impacts, optimize forest and rangeland...
Ecosystems & Biodiversity
Climate indicators show trends over time in key aspects of our environment, such as greenhouse gas levels in the atmosphere, temperatures across land and sea, and the extent of Arctic sea ice, as well as metrics of social or economic exposure to the impacts of climate variability and change. Indicators are based on long-term, consistently collected data and can be used to assess risks and vulnerabilities from a changing climate and to inform response actions. USGCRP’s Indicators Interagency Working Group (IndIWG) leverages existing agency research, data, and indicators in support of sustained...
Indicators
Long-term measurements of Earth’s atmosphere show rapidly rising concentrations of greenhouse gases linked to human activities. 1 Existing observing networks provide information on atmospheric concentrations of greenhouse gases at the global scale, but this spatial scale is not sufficient to help nations, regions, and other entities quantify and manage greenhouse gas emissions. To improve the relevance of emissions information for decision-making, an international initiative is promoting scientific methods that combine atmospheric concentration and emissions inventory data with simulations of...
Observations International
Fire risks to human health and property have increased in recent decades due to the impacts of a warmer, drier climate on ecosystems as well as historic land use and management practices. Smoke from wildfires in the western United States and agricultural fires in crop-producing regions such as the southeastern United States increasingly impacts air quality, with expected negative effects on human health. 1 The impacts of smoke on atmospheric conditions depend on many factors : the kind of fuel being burned, weather and climate conditions at ignition, and how smoke moves through the atmosphere...
Observations
Satellite observations show significant declines in Arctic sea ice cover in recent decades as the climate has warmed, 1 with impacts on fish and wildlife habitats that are important for subsistence, recreation, and tourist activities in the region. Retreating sea ice also contributes to increased storm surge, coastal flooding, and coastal erosion. 2 Arctic sea ice plays a key role in moderating climate within and beyond the region, and understanding sea ice change is critical to projections of future climate change. Complementary ground and remote sensing observations provide measurements of...
Arctic Observations
The U.S. Midwest is a major producer of a wide range of food and animal feed for national consumption and international trade. Higher humidity, precipitation, and temperatures associated with a changing climate increasingly impact agriculture in the region, and projected climate changes are expected to pose growing challenges to agricultural productivity in the coming decades. 1 Weather and climate information targeted to the needs of agricultural producers can help producers increase the resilience of their operations to climate variability and change. USDA’s Midwest Climate Hub works closely...
Agriculture & Food Adaptation Extreme Events
According to independent analyses by NASA and NOAA , Earth’s average global surface temperature in 2019 was the second warmest since modern record-keeping began in 1880. Globally, 2019’s average temperature was second only to that of 2016 and continued the planet’s long-term warming trend. Rising temperatures are contributing to glacier melt, disappearing snow cover, shrinking sea ice, rising sea level, and changes in rainfall patterns. 1 NOAA and NASA take slightly different, complementary approaches to interpreting global surface temperature, and work together to produce and communicate an...
Observations
Climate-sensitive infectious diseases, including vector-borne diseases (such as dengue, West Nile Virus, and Chikungunya), waterborne diseases (such as those caused by Vibrio species), soil- and dust-borne diseases (such as Valley Fever), and zoonotic diseases (such as plague and avian influenza) pose threats to the health of Americans living at home and abroad. These threats are anticipated to change in distribution and severity as climate change progresses in the coming decades. Improving U.S. capacity to predict and communicate changes in risks of climate-sensitive diseases, including...
Human Health International
The U.S. research centers that develop climate and Earth system models and the U.S. scientific community are key participants in long-running collaborative efforts to improve knowledge on climate change. A number of major interagency activities supporting improvements in climate modeling took place in 2019. Most prominently, the World Climate Research Programme Coupled Model Intercomparison Project (CMIP) is currently in its sixth phase (CMIP6). The earlier phases of CMIP experiments have provided the research community with large, detailed model-generated datasets that allow them to evaluate...
Modeling
Harmful algal blooms, or HABs, occur when colonies of cyanobacteria grow to a much greater size and density than normal, resulting in negative effects on water quality, ecosystem health, and the health of humans and animals. Climate-related factors contribute to HABs, including water temperatures and the frequency and intensity of extreme events such as intense storms, both of which are affected by climate change. The impacts of climate change are expected to further increase risks from HABs in recreational and drinking water sources in the coming decades. 1 While researchers have identified...
Human Health