Sarah van Schagen recounted how climate change will mess with salmon, skiing, and other essentials of life in the Pacific Northwest — according to the Global Climate Change Impacts in the United States report released today. As we say in Seattle, um… I don’t think we have a local saying for “oh crap.”

temperature models of climate changeglobalchange.govLest you non-Northwesterners feel jealous for lack of attention, here’s a rundown of what the report says will happen in other regions of this great (for now!) American land. (For a much more colorful set of maps and graphics of local climate impacts from the report, check out Climate change in living color.)


  • Water supplies will become increasingly scarce, calling for trade-offs among competing uses, and potentially leading to conflict.
  • Increasing temperature, drought, wildfire, and invasive species will accelerate transformation of the landscape.
  • Increased frequency and altered timing of flooding will increase risks to people, ecosystems, and infrastructure.
  • Unique tourism and recreation opportunities are likely to suffer.
  • Cities and agriculture face increasing risks from a changing climate.

Great Plains

  • Projected increases in temperature, evaporation, and drought frequency add to concerns about the region’s declining water resources.
  • Agriculture, ranching, and natural lands, already under pressure due to an increasingly limited water supply, are very likely to also be stressed by rising temperatures.
  • Climate change is likely to affect native plant and animal species by altering key habitats such as the wetland ecosystems known as prairie potholes or playa lakes.
  • Ongoing shifts in the region’s population from rural areas to urban centers will interact with a changing climate, resulting in a variety of consequences.


  • Projected increases in air and water temperatures will cause heat-related stresses for people, plants, and animals.
  • Decreased water availability is very likely to affect the region’s economy as well as its natural systems.
  • Sea-level rise and the likely increase in hurricane intensity and associated storm surge will be among the most serious consequences of climate change.
  • Ecological thresholds are likely to be crossed throughout the region, causing major disruptions to ecosystems and to the benefits they provide to people.
  • Quality of life will be affected by increasing heat stress, water scarcity, severe weather events, and reduced availability of insurance for at-risk properties.


  • During the summer, public health and quality of life, especially in cities, will be negatively affected by increasing heat waves, reduced air quality, and increasing insect and waterborne diseases. In the winter, warming will have mixed impacts.
  • The likely increase in precipitation in winter and spring, more heavy downpours, and greater evaporation in summer would lead to more periods of both floods and water deficits.
  • While the longer growing season provides the potential for increased crop yields, increases in heat waves, floods, droughts, insects, and weeds will present increasing challenges to managing crops, livestock, and forests.
  • Native species are very likely to face increasing threats from rapidly changing climate conditions, pests, diseases, and invasive species moving in from warmer regions.


  • Extreme heat and declining air quality are likely to pose increasing problems for human health, especially in urban areas.
  • Agricultural production, including dairy, fruit, and maple syrup, are likely to be adversely affected as favorable climates shift.
  • Severe flooding due to sea-level rise and heavy downpours is likely to occur more frequently.
  • The projected reduction in snow cover will adversely affect winter recreation and the industries that rely upon it.
  • The center of lobster fisheries is projected to continue its northward shift and the cod fishery on Georges Bank is likely to be diminished.


  • The availability of freshwater is likely to be reduced, with significant implications for island communities, economies, and resources.
  • Island communities, infrastructure, and ecosystems are vulnerable to coastal inundation due to sea-level rise and coastal storms.
  • Climate changes affecting coastal and marine ecosystems will have major implications for tourism and fisheries.


  • Longer summers and higher temperatures are causing drier conditions, even in the absence of strong trends in precipitation.
  • Insect outbreaks and wildfires are increasing with warming.
  • Lakes are declining in area.
  • Thawing permafrost damages roads, runways, water and sewer systems, and other infrastructure.
  • Coastal storms increase risks to villages and fishing fleets.
  • Displacement of marine species will affect key fisheries.


  • Significant sea-level rise and storm surge will adversely affect coastal cities and ecosystems around the nation; low-lying and subsiding areas are most vulnerable.
  • More spring runoff and warmer coastal waters will increase the seasonal reduction in oxygen resulting from excess nitrogen from agriculture.
  • Higher water temperatures and ocean acidification due to increasing atmospheric carbon dioxide will present major additional stresses to coral reefs, resulting in significant die-offs and limited recovery.
  • Changing ocean currents will affect coastal ecosystems.