UVM climate change study projects snow, followed by rain


Adjusting to climate change will be costly for the state of Vermont, but scientists say the cost of inaction will be greater and even dangerous.

Researchers from the University of Vermont released a report Tuesday detailing the impacts of climate change on Vermont. The report aims to translate the scientific certainty of climate change into a grim forecast that is expected to worsen over the next century.

The researchers say Vermont must stop heat-trapping greenhouse gas emissions from entering the atmosphere by advancing renewable energy development and using less energy. The state must also prepare for existing climate-related threats by redesigning its vulnerable infrastructure and economy.

The report, Vermont Climate Assessment, models the Obama administration's neatly package National Climate Assessment released in May. The findings include:

  • Vermont's temperatures are projected to rise up to 3.6° F by 2050 and 5.4° F of by 2100. The chances of record-breaking high temperature extremes will continue to increase.

  • Precipitation will continue to increase over the next century, especially in mountainous regions. First, it will come as snow, but winter precipitation will then shift to rainfall.

  • Pest infestations will continue to disrupt the state's agrarian economy. New viral diseases carried by ticks and mosquitoes will threaten public health.

  • Energy demand will increase 0.7 percent annually through 2030. To make matters worse, major storm events will continue to damage energy infrastructure such as poles and wires.

The report carries a sobering long-term forecast for the state, but the next few decades may actually be good for the state's tourism and agrarian economy. The report projects more snowfall for skiing, longer fall foliage seasons and longer growing seasons suited for growing warm-weather crops such as grapes and peaches.

However, the report finds that climate change will quickly turn costly and dangerous - heavy downpours, ice storms and flooding will grow stronger and continue to damage the state's infrastructure.


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