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November 23, 2018

A new federal report released today finds that climate change is affecting the natural environment, agriculture, energy production and use, land and water resources, transportation, human health and welfare across the U.S. and its territories.

UVM Professor of Geography Lesley-Ann Dupigny-Giroux, who also serves as the Vermont State Climatologist, was the lead author of the Northeast chapter of Volume II of the Fourth National Climate Assessment, issued by the United States Global Change Research Program.

In Volume II of the climate report, greater emphasis has been placed on assessing the risks posed by a changing climate to the peoples, resources, and livelihoods throughout the 10 regions of the U.S. and its territories than in previous assessments. Volume I (Climate Science Special Report) analyzes the impacts of global change. 

The National Climate Assessment is the U.S. Government’s premier resource for articulating the risks and impacts posed to the nation by climate change. It is an interagency effort, bringing together experts from not only the 13 federal agencies of the U.S. Global Change Research Program, but the broader federal government, and hundreds of experts in the academic, non-profit, and private sectors.

Without substantial and sustained global efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and regional initiatives to prepare for anticipated changes, the report anticipates climate change is expected to have implications for human health and wellbeing, cause growing losses to American infrastructure and property, and impede the rate of economic growth over this century.

Dupigny-Giroux was selected from nearly 200 experts across the United States nominated by her peers to serve as Chapter Lead on the NCA4. Her work concentrated on assessing the impacts of climate change on multiple sectors and communities across the northeast from Maine to West Virginia and Washington, D.C.

As the State Climatologist for Vermont, Dr. Dupigny-Giroux’s work takes her across Vermont to assist colleagues in state agencies and community organizations to help plan for and adapt to climate change. She is an expert on floods, droughts and geospatial technologies and the ways in which climate affects Vermont's landscape and people. 

“One of the key takeaways are the observed and anticipated risks posed to our ‘forests, wildlife, snowpack, and streamflow’ in our rural environments as our climate changes,” Dupigny-Giroux said. “Another is that the ongoing impacts to human health are also of great concern to our region. Climate change is also affecting the interconnectedness of the urban centers of the northeast. Finally, northeastern states, including Vermont, continue to be very proactive in planning for and ‘implementing actions to reduce risks posed by climate change.’”

As part of its Congressional mandate, the National Climate Assessment is required to analyze the effects of climate change on a number of topics, including agriculture, ecosystems, and human health. To better prepare the Nation to respond to these changes, there is a need to understand how a variety of climate change impacts are being experienced in different parts of the country, as well as how regional stakeholders are beginning to respond to the risks posed to society by those impacts.

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