The Northeast will experience warmer temperatures, higher seas, and greater amounts of rain and snow than federal scientists forecast only three years ago, according to a draft of a major report about climate change awaiting the approval of the Trump administration.
The findings were based on an array of new research tools and methods that have sharpened climate scientists’ understanding of how climate change will affect the United States, a greater clarity that one scientist likened to the vast improvement in the images of cellphone cameras over the years.
“New observations and new research have increased scientists’ understanding of past, current, and future climate change,” the report’s authors wrote. “Thousands of studies conducted by tens of thousands of scientists around the world have documented changes in surface, atmospheric, and oceanic temperatures; melting glaciers; disappearing snow cover; shrinking sea ice; rising sea level; and an increase in atmospheric water vapor.”
Human activity is the primary reason for many of those changes, which include more powerful storms and the warmest temperatures on the planet in at least 1,500 years, scientists wrote.
“Many lines of evidence demonstrate that human activities, especially emissions of greenhouse (heat-trapping) gases, are primarily responsible for recent observed climate changes,” they wrote.
If little is done to cut the rise in emissions, average annual temperatures in the Northeast could rise between 5.3 degrees and 9.1 degrees Fahrenheit by 2071, according to the report.
That’s nearly a degree higher than the previously forecast minimum rise in temperatures — a significant jump — and higher than the projected average increase for the United States. Over the past century, the region’s average annual temperature increased about 2 degrees, compared to 1.2 degrees for the nation as a whole. Most of that warming has occurred since the late 1970s, according to the report.