Individuals are better equipped to prepare their communities for the impacts of the changing climate if they understand the science of why this process is taking place. There are many websites, organizations, universities and agencies that provide information on climate science, at varying levels of complexity. We list below sources from USEPA, as well as sources that provide information specific to Indiana in the 2018 Indiana Climate Change Impacts Assessment (INCCIA).
The Science Underlying Climate Change Adaptation
Documents and websites providing the science underlying climate change are grouped below by interest. The accordions provide an overview of the science that demonstrates how the climate is changing, and the list at the bottom of the page provides links to more in-depth information such as climate change assessments, data and more.
An increase in temperature may increase the amount of ground-level ozone (smog). The intensity and frequency of wildfires is increasing with warmer temperatures and droughts, contributing to higher levels of particulate matter (dust) in the ambient air. Extreme weather conditions associated with climate change, such as more frequent and intense storm events, can threaten indoor air quality through mold growth, for example.
- U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Assessment of the Impacts of Global Change on Regional U.S. Air Quality: A Synthesis of Climate Change Impacts on Ground-Level Ozone (An Interim Report of the USEPA Global Change Research Program).
- Climate and Health Assessment: Air Quality Impacts
Changes to the climate can offset the delicate balance that keeps ecosystems healthy. Migration patterns may alter to accommodate different precipitation patterns and temperatures. Freshwater sources may dwindle, affecting aquatic species.
Fossil fuels accounted for approximately 80% of energy in the U.S. in 2017. The combustion of fossil fuels for energy is a leading cause of global climate change. The sources of energy used to generate power along with the amount of energy people consume affects the levels of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. Furthermore, the amount of energy used in the United States is related to weather patterns. As the climate changes, so will energy consumption.
The agriculture industry is highly sensitive to changes to the climate. Although growing seasons may lengthen in some parts of the country, average temperatures will also increase leading to higher evaporation rates and the need for more freshwater to supplement the loss. Precipitation patterns are expected to change causing droughts and requiring additional freshwater resources. More frequent extreme precipitation events may increase flooding incidences in agricultural areas. Heavier rainfalls will increase soil erosion and nutrient runoff necessitating more frequent nutrient applications.
Many states, cities, businesses and federal government agencies have realized the importance of reducing the harm climate change can cause and have begun developing their own adaptation plans and adopting policies that strengthen resilience.
Adaptation Planning Process
- U.S. Climate Resilience Toolkit – Steps to Resilience
- National Climate Assessment – Adaptation Process
- U.S. Climate Resilience Toolkit – Topics
- U.S. General Services Administration – Sustainable Facilities Tool – Information on efficient building operations, green buildings, and sustainable purchasing
Climate change threatens human health and well-being in many ways, including impacts from increased extreme weather events, wildfires and decreased air quality.
- National Climate Assessment – Public Health
- The Impacts of Climate Change on Human Health in the United States: A Scientific Assessment:
The rise of the automobile has been directly correlated with the increase of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere and reduced air quality. When pollution in the atmosphere precipitates from the sky as acid rain, it alters ecosystems. Fossil fuel reserves around the globe are waning and extraction processes have wreaked havoc on marine and land wildlife habitats.
Some extreme weather and climate events have increased in recent decades. Extreme weather may complicate contaminated site management, threaten the effectiveness of cleanup efforts and increase the need for disaster debris management.
Warming temperatures, sea level rise, drought, more extreme weather events and other climate impacts are affecting both water quality and quantity.
- EPA Climate Impacts on Water Resources Website – Website detailing how warming temperatures, changes in precipitation and sea level rise have affected and will likely continue to affect water supply and quality.
- EPA Climate Impacts on Coastal Areas Website – Website detailing how sea level rise, changes in the frequency and intensity of storms, increases in precipitation and warmer ocean temperatures may affect the health of coastal environments.
If you want to know more about climate change science…
- U.S. Global Change Research Program's National Climate Assessment – The National Climate Assessment summarizes the impacts of climate change on the United States, now and in the future.
- U.S. Global Change Research Program's National Climate Assessment – Adaptation – Adaptation planning is occurring in the public and private sectors and at all levels of government but few measures have been implemented.
- U.S. Global Change Research Program's – Climate and Health Assessment – Climate change is a significant threat to the health of the American people. This scientific assessment examines how climate change is already affecting human health and the changes that may occur in the future.
- USEPA webpage on Climate Change Science
- USEPA's Endangerment and Cause or Contribute Findings for Greenhouse Gases under Section 202(a) of the Clean Air Act; Final Rule (2009) – The EPA Administrator finds that six greenhouse gases taken in combination endanger both the public health and the public welfare of current and future generations.
- U.S. Climate Resilience Toolkit – The U.S. Climate Resilience Toolkit provides scientific tools, information and expertise to help communities manage their climate-related risks and opportunities, and improve their resilience to extreme events.
- U.S. Climate Data Portal – The U.S. Climate Data Portal provides data, tools and resources to conduct research, develop web and mobile applications, design data visualizations and more.
- Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) – The Fifth Assessment Report (2014) provides a clear and up-to-date view of the current state of scientific knowledge relevant to climate change.