Potential Impacts on Various Sectors Associated with Climate Change Predictions over the Next Century *

Water Resources--The quality and quantity of drinking water, water availability for irrigation, industrial use, and electricity generation, and the health of fisheries may be significantly affected by changes in precipitation and increased evaporation. Increased rainfall may cause more frequent flooding. Climate change would likely add stress to major river basins worldwide.

Coastal Resources--A 50 cm rise in sea level by the year 2100, which is within the center of the range projected by the IPCC, could inundate more than 5,000 square miles of dry land and an additional 4000 square miles of wetlands in the U.S.

Health--Heat-stress mortality could increase due to higher temperatures over longer periods. Changing patterns of precipitation and temperature may produce new breeding sites for pests and pathogens, shifting the range of infectious diseases, such as malaria and dengue fever.

Agriculture--Although droughts may become more frequent in certain areas of the U.S., such as the Great Plains, new technological advances and changes in planting patterns could offset adverse effects on agriculture. However, impacts in developing countries could be significant.

Forests--Over the next century, the range of North American forest species could shift to the north by as much as 450 kilometers, disrupting or reorganizing existing ecological communities over the next few decades. Higher temperatures and precipitation changes could increase forest susceptibility to fire, disease, and insect damage.

Energy and Transportation--Warmer temperatures increase cooling demand but decrease heating requirements. Fewer disruptions of winter transportation may occur, but water transport may be affected by increased flooding or lowered river levels.

*Climate Action Report, ISBN 0-16-045214-7, the U.S. submission under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change.

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Last updated 04/10/96