The Environmental Protection Agency has released the third edition of its report, Climate Change Indicators in the United States. Updating observed data on 30 key environmental indicators, EPA says “the report demonstrates that climate change is already affecting our environment and our society.” This is consistent with the conclusion of the recently released National Climate Assessment, that “global climate is changing and this is apparent across the United States in a wide range of observations.”
Whereas the State of the Climate reports put together periodically by the NOAA National Climatic Data Center (most recently the 2012 State of the Climate report) present global-scale atmospheric, oceanic, and sea ice data, the EPA report focuses on the U.S. and covers a wider range of environmental and societal variables.
The report focuses on long-term trends on key indicators for which high-quality data are available. The categories of indicators include greenhouse gases, weather and climate, oceans, snow and ice, health and society, and ecosystems.
EPA says the Climate Change Indicators report shows evidence that:
- Average temperatures have risen across the contiguous 48 states since 1901, with an increased rate of warming over the past 30 years. Seven of the top 10 warmest years on record have occurred since 1998.
- Tropical storm activity in the Atlantic Ocean, the Caribbean, and the Gulf of Mexico has increased during the past 20 years.
- Along the U.S. coastline, sea level has risen the most along the Mid-Atlantic coast and parts of the Gulf Coast, where some stations registered increases of more than 8 inches between 1960 and 2013.
- Glaciers have been melting at an accelerated rate over the past decade. The resulting loss of ice has contributed to the observed rise in sea level.
- Every part of the Southwest experienced higher average temperatures between 2000 and 2013 than the long-term average dating back to 1895. Some areas were nearly 2 degrees F warmer than average.
- Since 1983, the United States has had an average of 72,000 recorded wildfires per year. Of the 10 years with the largest acreage burned, nine have occurred since 2000, with many of the largest increases occurring in western states.
- Water levels in most of the Great Lakes have declined in the last few decades.
The report also looks at some of the ways that climate change may affect human health and society using key indicators related to Lyme disease incidence, heat-related deaths, and ragweed pollen season. …
The Climate Change Indicators report generally reinforces the conclusion of the recently-released, comprehensive U.S. National Climate Assessment, that “global climate is changing and this is apparent across the United States in a wide range of observations.”
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