Climate Change Indicators in the United States, 2012

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Report about climate change indicators in the USA (2nd edition). Published by the EPA in 2012.

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<ul><li><p>Climate Change Indicators in the United States, 2012 </p><p>2 N D E D I T I O N</p></li><li><p>Find Us OnlineEPAs updated climate change web-site now features a more user-friendly interface and downloadable images and figures. To view the latest information about EPAs climate change indicators, along with the corresponding technical documentation, or to suggest new indicators for future reports, please visit EPAs website at: www.epa.gov/ climatechange/indicators or send a message to: climateindicators@epa.gov.</p></li><li><p>1Contents</p><p>Acknowledgments ............................................................................................................................ 2</p><p>Introduction ...................................................................................................................................... 3</p><p>Summary of Key Points .................................................................................................................... 6</p><p>Greenhouse Gases .......................................................................................................................... 10U.S. Greenhouse Gas Emissions ............................................................................................................................................................. 12Global Greenhouse Gas Emissions ...................................................................................................................................................... 14Atmospheric Concentrations of Greenhouse Gases ................................................................................................................ 16Climate Forcing ................................................................................................................................................................................................ 20</p><p>Weather and Climate ...................................................................................................................... 22U.S. and Global Temperature ................................................................................................................................................................... 24High and Low Temperatures .................................................................................................................................................................... 26U.S. and Global Precipitation .................................................................................................................................................................... 28Heavy Precipitation ........................................................................................................................................................................................ 30Drought ................................................................................................................................................................................................................ 32Tropical Cyclone Activity ............................................................................................................................................................................ 34</p><p>Oceans ............................................................................................................................................ 36Ocean Heat ....................................................................................................................................................................................................... 38Sea Surface Temperature ............................................................................................................................................................................ 40Sea Level .............................................................................................................................................................................................................. 42Ocean Acidity ................................................................................................................................................................................................... 44</p><p>Snow and Ice .................................................................................................................................. 46Arctic Sea Ice .................................................................................................................................................................................................... 48Glaciers ................................................................................................................................................................................................................. 50Lake Ice ................................................................................................................................................................................................................. 52Snowfall ................................................................................................................................................................................................................ 54Snow Cover ....................................................................................................................................................................................................... 56Snowpack ............................................................................................................................................................................................................ 58</p><p>Society and Ecosystems ................................................................................................................. 60Streamflow.......................................................................................................................................................................................................... 62Ragweed Pollen Season .............................................................................................................................................................................. 64Length of Growing Season ........................................................................................................................................................................ 66Leaf and Bloom Dates ................................................................................................................................................................................. 68Bird Wintering Ranges ................................................................................................................................................................................. 70Heat-Related Deaths .................................................................................................................................................................................... 72</p><p>Climate Change Indicators and Human Health ............................................................................... 74</p><p>Climate Change Resources ............................................................................................................. 75</p><p>Endnotes ......................................................................................................................................... 77</p></li><li><p>2This report was developed by EPAs Office of Atmospheric Programs, Climate Change Division, with support from the Office Re-search and Development and the Office of Water. It also reflects the contributions and collaboration of many other individuals. EPA received essential support from scientists and communications experts at a number of federal agencies, universities, nongovernmental organizations, and international institutions.</p><p>Acknowledgments</p><p>U.S. Federal AgenciesCenters for Disease Control and Prevention George Luber</p><p>National Aeronautics and Space Administration Joey Comiso</p><p>National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Climate Prediction Center: Gerry Bell</p><p>Earth System Research Laboratory: Steve Montzka</p><p>National Climatic Data Center: Deke Arndt, Karin Gleason, Boyin Huang</p><p>National Oceanographic Data Center: Sydney Levitus</p><p>National Ocean Service: Chris Zervas</p><p>Office of Oceanic and Atmospheric Research: Libby Jewett</p><p>Pacif ic Marine Environmental Laboratory: Richard Feely, Chris Sabine</p><p>National Snow and Ice Data Center Walt Meier</p><p>U.S. Department of Agriculture Lewis Ziska</p><p>U.S. Geological Survey Alaska Science Center: Shad ONeel</p><p>Maine Water Science Center: Robert Dudley, Glenn Hodgkins</p><p>New York Water Science Center: Mike McHale</p><p>Washington Water Science Center: Bill Bidlake, Mark Savoca</p><p>Universities, Nongovernmental Organizations, and International InstitutionsBermuda Institute of Ocean Sciences Nick Bates</p><p>California Department of Public Health Paul English</p><p>Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation John Church, Catia Domingues, Neil White</p><p>Georgia Institute of Technology Ray Wang</p><p>Japan Agency for Marine-Earth Science and Technology Masayoshi Ishii</p><p>Massachusetts Institute of Technology Kerry Emanuel</p><p>North Carolina State University Ken Kunkel</p><p>Rutgers University Global Snow Lab David Robinson</p><p>University of Nebraska-Lincoln Song Feng</p><p>Universidad de las Palmas de Gran Canaria Melchor Gonzlez-Dvila</p><p>University of Wisconsin-Madison Corinna Gries</p><p>University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee Mark Schwartz</p><p>USA National Phenology Network Jake Weltzin</p><p>Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution Sarah Cooley</p><p>World Glacier Monitoring Service Michael Zemp</p><p>World Resources Institute Tom Damassa</p><p>Data Contributors and Indicator Reviewers</p><p>Peer ReviewThe report included an external peer review consisting of 12 expert reviewers: Michael C. MacCracken, Tanja Srebotnjak, Dan Tunstall, Paul Kir-shen, Thomas R. Knutson, Gerald Meehl, Steven Nerem, W. Tad Pfeffer, Michael J. Prather, David Schimel, Joel D. Schwartz, and Claudia Tebaldi.</p><p>Report Production and DesignSupport for the reports production and design was provided by Eastern Research Group, Inc. (ERG).</p></li><li><p>3The Earths climate is changing. Scientists are confident that many of the observed changes in the climate can be linked to the increase in greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, caused largely by people burning fossil fuels to generate electric-ity, heat and cool buildings, and power vehicles (see The Greenhouse Effect below to learn about how these gases trap heat). Current and future emissions will continue to increase the levels of these gases in our atmosphere for the foreseeable future. </p><p>One way to track and communicate the causes and effects of climate change is through the use of indica-tors. An indicator, such as a record of Arctic sea ice extent, represents the state or trend of certain envi-ronmental conditions over a given area and a specified period of time. Scientists, analysts, decision-makers, and others use environmental indicators, including those re-lated to climate, to help monitor environmental trends over time, track key factors that influence the environ-ment, and identify effects on ecosystems and society. </p><p>The climate change indicators in this report pres-ent compelling evidence that the composition of the </p><p>atmosphere and many fundamental measures of climate in the United States are changing. Temperatures are rising, snow and rainfall patterns are shifting, and more extreme climate eventslike heavy rainstorms and record high temperaturesare taking place. Similar changes are occurring around the world.</p><p>These observed changes affect people and the environ-ment in important ways. For example, sea levels are rising, glaciers are melting, and plant and animal life cycles are changing. These types of changes can bring about fun-</p><p>damental disruptions in ecosystems, affecting plant and animal popula-tions, communities, and biodiversity. Such changes can also affect society, including where people can live, what kinds of crops farmers can grow, and what kinds of businesses can thrive in certain areas.</p><p>Indicators of climate change are ex-pected to become even more numer-ous and depict even clearer trends in the future. Looking ahead, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) will continue to work in part-nership with other agencies, orga-nizations, and individuals to collect and communicate useful data and to inform policies and programs based on this knowledge.</p><p>What Is Climate Change? Climate change refers to any significant change in measures of climate (such as temperature or precipitation) lasting for an ex-tended period (decades or longer). Climate change may result from natural factors and processes or from human activities. </p><p>Global warming is a term often used interchangeably with the term climate change, but they are not the same thing. Global warming refers to an average increase in the temperature of the atmosphere near the Earths surface. Global warming is just one aspect of global climate change, albeit a very important one.</p><p>Introduction</p><p>The Greenhouse Effect</p><p>Some solar radiationis reflected by the</p><p>Earth and theatmosphere.</p><p>Most radiation is absorbedby the Earths surfaceand warms it.</p><p>Infrared radiation is emitted by theEarths surface.</p><p>Some of the infrared radiation passes through the atmosphere. Some is absorbed and re-emitted in all directions by greenhouse gas molecules. The effect of this is to warm the Earths surface and the lower atmosphere.</p><p>Atmosphere</p><p>Earths surface</p></li><li><p>4About This Report Climate Change Indicators in the United States, 2012, presents 26 indicators to help readers better un-derstand observed trends related to the causes and effects of climate change. This document updates a report published by EPA in 2010. </p><p>Various government agencies, academic institutions, and other organizations contributed data critical to the development of this report. EPA also received feedback from a diverse group of scientists, research-ers, and communications experts in the public and private sectors. This feedback helped to inform the content and new features of this 2012 report. All of the indicators in this report are based on data that have been collected and compiled according to protocols accepted by the scientific community. The indicators were chosen using a standard set of criteria that considered usefulness, objectivity, data quality, transparency, ability to meaningfully com-municate, and relevance to climate change. In addi-tion, the report was peer-reviewed by independent technical experts.</p><p>Who Is This Report For?Climate Change Indicators in the United States, 2012, is written with the primary goal of informing read-ers understanding of climate change. In addition to presenting climate change observations and trends in the United States and globally, this report high-lights the far-reaching significance of these changes and their possible consequences for people, the envi-ronment, and society.</p><p>This report is also designed to be useful for sci-entists, analysts, decision-makers, educato...</p></li></ul>