A key finding of recent assessments is that climate change will exacerbate heat waves, coastal flooding, and river flooding in the northeastern United States. Both air and water temperatures are expected to increase as a result of climate change. Uncertainties about potential changes to Gulf Stream circulation make predictions challenging.

The current consensus is that both air and water temperatures will increase. Across the continental US precipitation is falling in more intense events. This trend is especially strong in the northeastern US. Some of these heavy precipitation events will be in the form of hurricanes and winter northeasters. Furthermore, the number and power of severe storms is predicted to increase in the future, even as the overall frequency of storms may decrease. Heavy precipitation events, particularly winter northeasters and hurricanes, often occur in combination with storm surges and wind, which can exacerbate near-shore flooding, especially as sea levels rise. On its own, sea level rise will inundate land and marshes along the shoreline as well. In addition, ocean chemistry is changing, and the main focus of attention has been ocean acidification, which occurs when increased CO2 uptake reduces available carbonate ions.

Why it matters: Climate threats can contribute to the collapse of fisheries and the local economies that depend on them

RELATED REPORTS

  • Northeast Report for the National Climate Assessment [DOWNLOAD]
  • Climate Change Impacts in the United States – National Climate Assessment [DOWNLOAD]
  • Massachusetts Climate Change Adaptation Report [DOWNLOAD]

Photo Credit : Barbara Brennessel – Wheaton College