Effects Of Climate Change

New York, like the northeast as a whole, is warming. Historical records show that temperature in New York is increasing at a rate of about 0.2 degrees F (0.1 degrees C) per decade, and more recent data suggest even greater warming trends. If these trends, continue, the mean temperature of New York will be more like that of South Carolina by the end of the century. If rates are slowed by reduction of carbon emissions, the temperature will be more like that of Maryland.

Storm tracks of Atlantic storms, including hurricanes, are impacting the coastal regions of New

York, specifically Long Island. While records suggest that about a dozen major storms have hit the Atlantic coast of New York over the last several hundred years, the frequency seems to be increasing. Additionally, many of the areas impacted by such storms in the past were not as developed as they are now. This greatly increases the potential for damage to humans because of both their frequency and of people being put into harm's way, and the danger is not limited to rain storms alone. As there are wider swings in weather, winter storms can likewise impact both coastal and inland regions. Structural failure, incursions of water into transportation and utility systems, and travel are all critical in New York State, and all will be impacted from storms.

Rising mean sea levels are of major concern to the low-lying areas along the coast—most notably Long Island and parts of Manhattan. If current rates of rise continue, much of the lowlands will be under water. The rise of sea level, along with human activity, is already impacting many the salt marshes of Long Island Sound and the Atlantic coast of Long Island. Overall trends of precipitation are down in New York. This has definite impacts on agriculture and recreation. Heat stress has impacted the dairy cow industry and will continue to do so if current trends continue. Grapes are impacted by the change in weather—some varieties do better, others do worse. Skiing, a major recreational industry in New York has been impacted by the reduction of snowfall.

Health is affected by climate change. In New York, increased heat mortality may be expected if trends continue. The longer warm seasons will likely impact insect populations, thereby increasing the risks of mosquito borne diseases such as West Nile Virus (which has already adversely impacted New York). Increased heat can also lead to pollution, increasing an already escalating incidence of asthma and other respiratory problems. Specific events, such as flooding from rising sea levels, can increase mortality and morbidity significantly.

Energy demands go up with extremes of weather and peak load is impacted. Estimates suggest that, in the next decade, given the trend in summer temperature and population, overall demand may double. This will impact an already taxed energy infrastructure, which may not be able to respond. More brown outs or grid failures can be expected throughout the state. While some decrease overall can be expected due to reduced heating, a cooling trend would place the greatest burden on energy delivery systems.

Many of the climate changes are part of global trends impacting the nation as well as New York State. Because of its size and impact on the global economy, New York State has the opportunity to attempt to mitigate climate change where possible, as well as the risk of increased problems from climate change.

SEE ALSo: Diseases; Energy; Floods; Sea Level, Rising.

BIBLIoGRApHY. Climate Change Information Resources (CCIR-NYC), www.ccir.ciesin.columbia.edu (cited November 2007); P.C. Frumhoff, et al., Confronting Climate Change in the U.S. Northeast: Science, Impacts, and Solutions (Union of Concerned Scientists, 2007); New York State Climate Office, www.nysc.eas.cornell. edu (cited November 2007).

Karl Auerbach University of Rochester Andrea S. Auerbach Eastern Research Group, Inc.

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