Predicted Impacts of Climate Change
- The frequency and intensity of severe storms has increased. This trend will likely continue as the effects of climate change become more pronounced.
- The amount of precipitation falling in the heaviest 1% of storms increased by 37% in the Midwest and 71% in the Northeast from 1958 to 2012.
- Heavier storms are projected to increase in frequency at a faster rate than storms that are less intense.
- The amount of precipitation falling during intense multi-day events has increased dramatically
- Increased spring precipitation and higher temperatures and humidity are expected to increase the number and intensity of fungus and disease outbreaks and the prevalence of bacterial plant diseases, such as bacterial spot in pumpkin and squash. Increased precipitation and soil moisture in a warmer climate also lead to increased loss of soil carbon and degraded surface water quality due to loss of soil particles and nutrients. Transitions from extremes of drought to floods, in particular, increase nitrogen levels in rivers and lead to harmful algal blooms.
- Climate change modeling suggests that the southern half of the Midwest likely will see increases in saturated soils, which also indicates risks to agriculture and property from inundation and flooding; recent work incorporating land-use change and population changes also suggests the number of people at risk from flooding will increase across much of the Midwest.
- Because infrastructure was not designed with current precipitation trends in mind, storm drain and sewage systems in both the Midwest and Northeast are already experiencing increasing incidents of issues such as back-ups and flooding during heavy precipitation events, which can cause structural damage and present health risks.