Northeast
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CT - Our Changing Connecticut Climate: A Water Story

The seasonality of the Northeast is central to the region’s sense of place. Yet, earlier springs and milder winters are changing ecosystems and environments in ways that adversely impact commerce, recreation, tourism, agriculture, industry and livelihoods.

This is the second article in the Greenwich Sustainability Committee’s “One Water” weekly series.

Written by Sarah Coccaro, Conservation Resource Manager, Greenwich Conservation Commission, member of the Land and Water sector of the Sustainability Committee

The seasonality of the Northeast is central to the region’s sense of place. Yet, earlier springs and milder winters are changing ecosystems and environments in ways that adversely impact commerce, recreation, tourism, agriculture, industry and livelihoods. Global warming alters nearly every stage of the water cycle; from precipitation, evaporation, surface runoff to stream flow. These changes put pressure on drinking water supplies, food production, property values, and our quality of life. When we talk about climate change, we’re essentially telling a water story.

Connecticut’s climate is changing

The Northeast region is warming the fastest after the North and South Poles. Connecticut’s average temperature has risen 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit) since the late 19th century, double the average for the lower 48 states. One way to understand a temperature rise of 3.6 degrees is to think of the Earth as a giant organism that has a regulated temperature, much like the human organism. If the temperature of the Earth rises 3.6 degrees, clearly it has a fever!

Spring is arriving earlier and bringing more precipitation. Heavy rainstorms are more frequent, and summers are hotter and drier. Droughts and heat waves are more common. Sea levels are rising with severe storms increasingly causing floods that damage property and infrastructure. Water quality and quantity are also being affected. The combination of changes in precipitation and runoff, and the increase in consumption and withdrawal, have reduced surface and groundwater supplies in many areas.

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