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Global warming

Northeastern U.S. states may experience radical climate change as global warming unfolds, warn scientists

Friday, October 06, 2006 by: Ben Kage
Tags: global warming, climate change, health news

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(NewsTarget) According to the Northeast Climate Impacts Assessment -- a report released by the Union of Concerned Scientists on Wednesday -- rising greenhouse gas emissions could cause the climate of the nine northeastern U.S. states to resemble the hotter states in the South.

Global warming has the potential to place significant strain on the power grid, the health care system, farms, forests, marine fisheries, recreation and tourism because it can bring about longer, hotter summers and warmer winters. The scientists noted that just a 3 percent reduction in carbon dioxide emissions each year could greatly lower the impact.

"This has enormous implications for human health. It puts a lot of stress on the energy system. It could lead to blackouts," said Katherine Hayhoe, an associate professor of geosciences at Texas Tech University and a lead author of the report, which was the culmination of two years of research using weather records and multiple state-of-the-art climate models to project probable climate changes from New Jersey and Pennsylvania up to Maine through 2099.

With average temperatures in the Northeast rising 1.5 degrees Fahrenheit in the summer and 4 degrees Fahrenheit in the winter between 1970 and 2000, climate change is already taking place, according to the other lead author, Cameron Wake, an associate professor at the University of New Hampshire's Climate Change Research Center.

The report also found that Boston's usual number of 90-degree-or-higher summer days -- one -- could jump to 40, and New York City could have 70 if changes are not made. Hayhoe noted that the results show an increase in winter precipitation is likely, but will manifest mostly as rain, and snow will stick to the ground for much shorter periods. The report also showed that summers could increase in length by up to six weeks and spring could start earlier, which would affect plants, wildlife and recreation tied to the cycle of seasons.

The Northeast was the focus of the study because it is the seventh-largest source of emissions in the world behind the United States as a whole and five other nations. Also, these states were studied because their high-emission status has caused the region's leaders to make steps toward reducing emissions, and innovations in policy and technology could serve as a national model.


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