Impacts and Responses
Edited by Matthias Ruth, Kieran Donaghy and Paul Kirshen
Chapter 4: An Integrated Assessment of Impacts of Predicted Climate Change on the Mackinaw River Basin
K. Donaghy, W. Eheart, E. Herricks and B. Orland ___________________________________________________ INTRODUCTION There is overwhelming evidence that global climate change is occurring. USAID (1998) reports that since 1860, atmospheric CO2 concentration has increased by 30 percent, while average global temperature has risen by 0.5ºC. By 2100, the average global temperature is expected to increase by 1 to 3.5ºC. Greater increases are anticipated in areas closer to the poles, and smaller increases in areas closer to the equator. Manifestations of climate change will not be limited to temperatures. Also varying will be the degree and timing of regional climate extremes, such as the length of growing seasons and soil moisture. Changes in seasonal pattern and variability of precipitation will lead to either wetter or dryer environments (because evaporation will more than compensate for increased precipitation) and increased danger of floods and high winds. The frequency of extreme weather events will increase and, by 2100, the sea level will rise by nearly 50 cm. When combined with storm surges and tides, this rise will lead to incursions of seawater into coastal and freshwater areas and significant erosion. These changes will affect not only natural systems, but also economic and social systems, disrupting agricultural production, manufacturing and transportation and increasing vulnerability of human health. Although climate change is occurring globally, it is experienced locally (or regionally), where people live and work. In the case of the Midwestern United States, significant impacts have already been experienced. Lettenmaier et al. (1994) (cited in IPCC 1998)...
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