Climate change is creating new challenges for conservation and management of natural resources. As temperatures, rainfall patterns, and disturbance regimes change and sea levels rise, ecosystems are being transformed. Some species of plants and animals are already shifting their distributions in response to climate change, and changes in phenology are disrupting ecological relationships and species interactions. Some organisms also respond physiologically to increasing temperatures and CO2 concentrations.
Incorporation of climate change impacts into transportation decisions is still a relatively new concept. As decision makers in various sectors grapple with information on climate change effects and how they may or may not impact their core mission(s), they are turning to existing tools and approaches for guidance. To date, three closely-related approaches are being used to help transportation decision makers consider and prepare for future climate impacts: vulnerability assessment, risk assessment, and adaptation assessment.
U.S. agriculture faces significant changes in local patterns of precipitation and temperature over the next century, with implications for regional water cycling and water availability. The effects of climate change on food production, farmer livelihoods, and consumer welfare will depend on the direction, magnitude, and rate of change in local weather conditions, as well as on the ability of the agricultural sector to adapt to changing yield and productivity patterns, production costs, and resource availability.
In the United States, climate change is likely to increase average daily temperatures and the frequency of heat waves, which can reduce meat and milk production in animals. Methods that livestock producers use to mitigate thermal stress—including modifications to animal management or housing—tend to increase production costs and capital expenditures. Dairy cows are particularly sensitive to heat stress, and the dairy sector has been estimated to bear over half of the costs of current heat stress to the livestock industry.
Human activities, particularly the combustion of fossil fuels and the large-scale transformation of land cover, affect ecosystems around the world. Changes in temperature, precipitation, and water chemistry are altering our environment. These changes will also affect environmental regulatory frameworks, either rendering them ineffective or forcing them to adapt to achieve their goals under changing conditions.
A warming atmosphere is giving extra energy to storms, making the hurricanes, tornadoes, and thunderstorms of today more intense than those of the past. This trend is projected to accelerate in the years to come. These stronger storms are more likely to cause power outages, and the loss of power can be costly in terms of lives lost, economic impact, and public health. This fact sheet outlines strategies that local governments could implement to reduce the frequency and duration of power outages and help communities better withstand them when they do occur.
Climate change is contributing to more frequent, severe, and longer heat waves during summer months across the United Sates. The number of heatwaves observed in 2011 and 2012 were triple the long-term average, and require planning for economic, health and environmental tolls.
Across the United States, the risk of drought is expected to grow due to reduced precipitation and higher temperatures caused by climate change. Drought’s far-reaching impacts can ripple through communities, regions, watersheds, economies and ecosystems. This fact sheet overviews strategies for areas with a projected increase in drought conditions to become more resilient. It concludes with a community case study that has used a number of these strategies, and a list of tools to help communities evaluate the costs and benefits of resilience strategies.
The United States is facing increasingly frequent and intense precipitation events and ever higher damages from flooding each year due to climate change and urbanization. Communities, counties, and states are responding by upgrading stormwater and sewage systems with a growing emphasis on strategies to become more resilient to flooding. This paper outlines resilience strategies for flash flooding, with an emphasis on riverine and precipitation-caused flooding. For each strategy, the paper will discuss primary and co-benefits, and associated costs.