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Global Warming in the North of the US: “chaud chaud devant”!

Published by AnneSo | Filed under In English, Chiffres, Ecologie, Economie

Confronting Climate ChangeA recent study by the Union of Concerned Scientists looks at the effects of global warming on the NorthEast of the US. Here are their conclusions.

Une étude publiée le 12 juillet dernier par l’association de chercheurs Union of Concerned Scientist met en avant les effets probables du réchauffement climatique sur le Nord-Est des Etats-Unis. La comparaison est faite entre une situation où aucune mesure n’est prise pour enrayer le réchauffement et une situation où des efforts sont effectués pour essayer de limiter les dégâts.

Voici les conclusions du rapport, en anglais, avec un petit résumé en français…

On climate:

“The two emissions scenarios would lead to starkly different climates when children born today reach middle age. Under the higher-emissions scenario, winters in the Northeast could warm by 8°F to 12°F and summers by 6°F to 14°F above historic levels by late this century. But under the lower-emission scenario, temperatures during Northeast winters are projected to warm only 5°F to 8°F above historic levels by late-century, and summers by just 3°F to 7°F.”

On coastlines:

“Global sea level is conservatively projected to rise 10 to 23 inches under the higher-emissions scenario and 7 to 14 inches under the lower-emissions scenario. Using these estimates, cities such as Boston and Atlantic City can expect a coastal flood equivalent to today’s 100-year flood every two to four years on average by mid-century and almost annually by the end of the century under either scenario. New York City is projected to face flooding equivalent to today’s 100-year flood once every decade on average under the higher-emissions scenario and once every two decades under the lower-emissions scenario by century’s end. Sea-level rise is also projected to increase shoreline erosion and wetland loss, particularly along the vulnerable coasts of Cape Cod, Long Island, and the Jersey Shore.”

On agriculture:

“By late-century under the higher-emissions scenario, heat stress in cows is projected to cut milk production across much of the region by 5 to 20 percent in certain months, with the greatest losses in the key dairy state of Pennsylvania. Parts of the Northeast are projected to become unsuitable for growing certain popular varieties of apples, blueberries, and cranberries by mid-century, since they require long winter-chill periods to produce fruit. Meanwhile, weed problems and pest-related damage are likely to escalate, increasing pressures on farmers to use more herbicides and pesticides. By contrast, changes expected under the lower-emissions scenario are generally much less extensive”.

On marine fisheries:

“As ocean temperatures continue to rise, the range of suitable habitat in the Northeast for many fish and shellfish species such as cod and lobster is projected to shift northward. Cod are expected to disappear from the region’s waters south of Cape Cod during this century, under either emissions scenario. With higher emissions, the renowned fishing grounds of Georges Bank will likely lose its cod stocks. The lobster populations in Long Island Sound and the nearshore waters off Rhode Island and south of Cape Cod are expected to be lost by mid-century under either scenario”.

About winter recreation and tourism:

“Under the higher-emissions scenario, only western Maine is projected to retain a reliable ski season by the end of the century, and only northern New Hampshire would support a snowmobiling season longer than two months. Under the lower-emissions scenario, reliable ski seasons can be expected through this century in the North Country of New York and parts of Vermont and New Hampshire, in addition to western Maine.

Their broader conclusion insists in the fact that “the Northeast (of the US!) cannot reduce global warming alone, but as a world leader in technology, finance and innovation—and a major source of heat-trapping emissions—the region is well-positioned to help drive national and international progress in reducing emissions”: “sustained efforts to reduce emissions in the region—on the order of 80 percent below 2000 levels by mid-century and just over 3 percent per year on average over the next several decades—can help pull global emissions below the lower-emissions path used in this study.

Although some efforts have begun in the region, James McCarthy, professor of biological oceanography at Harvard University, vice-chair of the NECIA, and president-elect of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, highlights that “the region can do much more to lower emissions and help protect its people and economy (…) The Northeast has a tremendous opportunity to help lead us to a secure climate future. Fortunately, more and more people understand the stakes and are mobilizing around the problem. The time to act is now.”

To know more about this report:

Download the Complete Report (pdf)

By States of the Region, see the dedicated webpage on Climate Choices

Résumé en français:

Les conclusions de l’étude sont avant tout que la hausse des température est inévitable: les GES se conservent longtemps dans l’atmosphère et on ne peut éviter certains changements. Dans les deux cas “la température s’élèverait de plusieurs degrés d’ici à la fin du siècle, mais pas dans les mêmes proportions. Dans le cas de figure pessimiste, les températures moyennes hivernales gagneraient 4,5 à 6,5 0C et les étés de 6 à 14 0C, ce par rapport aux moyennes historiques. Dans le scénario optimiste, la température ne monterait que de 3 à 4,5 0C l’hiver et de 1,5 à 4 0C l’été.”(Corine Lesnes)

Ensuite, “le réchauffement induirait une ” migration ” vers le nord de certaines essences d’arbres, ce qui, par effet de cascade, modifierait la faune et notamment la faune aviaire. Ainsi, le loriot disparaîtrait des environs de Baltimore. Il s’agit d’un exemple de nature à frapper les esprits car cet oiseau est l’emblème de l’équipe locale de base-ball. Autre exemple d’une longue liste : trente jours par an, Philadelphie pourrait connaître des températures supérieures à 38 0C.”(Corine Lesnes).

Cela dit, pour Peter Frumhoff, un des principaux auteurs du rapport du Groupe d’experts intergouvernemental sur l’évolution du climat (GIEC) cela dit, “les conséquences les pires peuvent être évitées si nous agissons vite”.

Les mentalités sont aussi en train de changer aux Etats-Unis, et c’est avec la multiplication de ce genre d’études que les choses pourront avancer! Croisons les doigts pour les Etats-Unis entament désormais de vrais efforts!

Pour aller plus loin:

Article de Corine Lesnes dans Le Monde du 19 Juillet 2007

Pour télécharger l’étude: “Confronting Climate Change in the U.S. Northeast

juillet 19th, 2007

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