According to the US EPA, the Earth’s average temperature has risen by 1.5°F over the past century and is projected to rise another 0.5 to 8.6°F over the next century. Small changes in the average temperature on Earth can translate to large and potentially dangerous changes in climate and weather. A warming climate will bring changes that can affect various aspects of our water supplies and other sectors:
- Warming temperatures, changes in precipitation and runoff, and sea level rise have affected and will likely continue to affect water supply and quality.
- Changes will vary in different regions of the United States; potential effects include increased flooding and drought, water quality impairment, and salt water intrusion to coastal water supplies.
- Changes to our water resources affect many sectors, including energy production, infrastructure, human health, agriculture, and ecosystems.
Global warming refers to the recent and ongoing rise in global average temperature near Earth’s surface. It is caused mostly by increasing concentrations of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. Global warming is causing climate patterns to change. However, global warming itself represents only one aspect of climate change (Definition from the US EPA website, accessed in January 2017)
Climate change refers to any significant change in the measures of climate lasting for an extended period of time. In other words, climate change includes major changes in temperature, precipitation, or wind patterns, among other effects, that occur over several decades or longer (Definition from the US EPA website, accessed in January 2017)
Some useful information from the federal government:
Fact Sheet: Climate Change Indicators in the US 2016 (PDF, 2.15 MG)
Fact Sheet: What Climate Change Means for New York (PDF, 1.78 MG)