On Tuesday, May 6, 2014, the White House released a new report, the Third U.S. National Climate Assessment, as part of President Obama’s second-term objective to demand immediate action on climate change, and prepare the nation for rising temperatures and increased cataclysmic storms. According to the report, the impacts of climate change in the Northeast will culminate in “heat waves, more extreme precipitation events, and coastal flooding due to sea level rise and storm surge” (Third U.S. National Climate Assessment, 2014).
The topic of climate change has received significant press following the release of the report, including articles in the Boston Globe and the New York Times.
Most New Englanders over the age of 20 can tell that climate change is already happening here, even given the region’s notoriously variable weather. Compared to what was “normal” 20 years ago, spring now arrives earlier, we get less snow in winter, and average temperatures, especially at night, are warmer in all seasons. These trends stand out, even when historic variability is accounted for. Scientific models and predictions indicate that we have significantly more change ahead of us, and we will need to adapt to a different climate in the future, even if we do reduce our greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and try to mitigate climate change impacts.
A changing climate will of course have major implications for Boston as a coastal city. For the Charles River, there are obvious impacts we will need to prepare for. Here are three of the most important: