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The Climate of the Northeast and Weather Changes

written by: •edited by: Laurie Patsalides•updated: 7/22/2011

Weather is constantly changing in the northeastern part of the United States. Warmer temperatures are seen every year. Over the past decade, the Northeast's climate and weather patterns are producing signs of problems in the economic, recreational and property elements of the region.

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    Who is the NRCC & What Do They Do?

    Founded in 1983, the Northeast Regional Climate Center (NRCC) conducts studies and records northeast climate and weather changes. They cover the areas of Delaware, Maryland, New Hampshire, New Jersey, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Maine, New York, Rhode Island, Pennsylvania, Vermont and West Virginia. The staff of the NRCC works side by side with the National Climatic Data Center and the National Weather Service to disseminate accurate, up-to-date climate data and information.

    Changes in the Northeastern region of the United States (US) have been seen on an increasingly large scale over the past several years. Studies have shown that the warming of the planet is caused by many factors, including the lack of emission controls.

     

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    What is the Difference Between Climate and Weather?

    Climate changes are occurring due to the Earth's warming. Will this contribute to warmer summer days? Climate change globally is more complicated than this, due to a change in temperature causing changes in other weather-related elements such as the appearance of clouds or precipitation.

    Weather is the mixture of events occurring daily in the atmosphere. Rainfall, humidity and temperature mix together on a daily basis and full under the category of weather. Meteorologists throughout the world predict a daily reading of weather events.

    The climate in your area is controlled by the weather where you live. The average weather patterns over a period of years are considered to be the standard climate in which you live. Hence, continued changes in weather over time can alter the climate of an area, such as what the NRCC has found is happening in the Northeastern US.

     

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    Normal Patterns of Northeast Climate and Weather

    The weather in the northeastern part of the US usually runs a gamut of seasonal temperatures and scenic aspects of weather. Autumn typically sees bright red, beautiful orange, tinges of pink and yellow leaf colorations, which is an iconic range of spectacular fall beauty. Photographs are routinely taken of this beautiful autumnal display, particularly around the White House or in Vermont.

    Winter boasts spectacular pictures of snowy capped trees, vicious driving conditions and deep snow covered lawns. New Yorkers are used to this typical weather pattern in the region, as they hassle with digging cars out of three feet of the white stuff, or try to run through the slippery mess while catching a bus or cab.

    Spring is a spectacular time of year in the northeastern US, as we see cherry blossoms around the White House in full bloom or daffodils planted along roadways or in flower boxes throughout the region. Spring rings in an amazing time of the year for these residents during a normal range of weather displays.

    Summers are normally very warm, as people grab for air conditioners or open their freezer doors to get a tiny cold breeze to beat the summer heat. Pictures capturing children opening up the fire hydrants in streets have been seen throughout the years, recording the innocence of a hot summer beat-the-heat event. Sweltering temperatures are the norm in the past for the area; however, due to the changing seasonal weather patterns, this dramatic revolving weather pattern is predicted to come to a halt if things don’t change in the way of emission control.

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    What is the NRCC Reporting?

    climate The NRCC has found that the winters of 2010 to 2011 have turned much colder than normal. The colder weather has appeared this year in all of the regions except for Maine.

    The area’s average temperature went on record this year as being 24.2 degrees, which records show is 2.0 degrees colder than in other years. Elkins, West Virginia was the 8th coldest this year, Bridgeport Connecticut recorded at 11th place for being coldest and Buffalo, New York was recorded as being the 14th coldest during the year. Caribou Maine was seen as having the 4th warmest winter on record. Caribou’s records date back to 1939.

    The annual average temperature shows an increase of 2 degrees Fahrenheit since 1970. Rising by 4 degrees, winter temperatures have shown an increase in the way of warmth. The warming process has created other changes in the climate, however, that include a longer growing season, heavier rain storms, a higher amount of hotter days, fewer winter snow days but more winter rain, less ice in the winter on lakes and rivers, smaller snow packs, spring snowmelts appearing earlier, sea surface temperatures have risen and the sea level itself is rising around the region.

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    What Will Northeast Climate and Weather Changes Affect?

    ski-lift The recorded changes are expected to continue and intensify. The region’s environment, economy, quality of life and way of life have been adversely affected by these changes. Flooding due to sea levels rising and the heavy rain is likely to occur more often. Densely populated areas along the coasts of the Northeast are likely to face challenges due to the substantial increase in the amount of and the frequency of storms, which will cause flooding, and erosion. With flooding and erosion come the loss of property and property damage, and the loss of wetlands. New York State has more than 2.3 trillion dollars in coastal property. The coastline will see a rise in damage due to rising sea levels.

    The reduction in the amounts of snowfall that is projected over future years will impact winter recreation in the region and the economy. It is expected the length of the winter snow season will be reduced to half throughout the Northeast regional areas of New York, Vermont, New Hampshire, and Maine. These reduced snow periods could fall to as low as a week or two in the southern areas of the Northeast region by later this century. Snow and ice sports venues could see a reduction of $7.6 billion yearly that is currently contributing to the region’s economy.

    Lobster fisheries along the Georges Bank are likely to become extinct. Lobster fishing has already declined dramatically in the past ten years. A temperature sensitive bacterial shell disease is to blame for the lack in lobster catches. Analysis also shows the possibility of an increase in lobster survival and settlement in the northern regions of the Gulf of Maine due to the warmer weather conditions. As temperatures rise, the cod fishing industry may be adversely affected as well.

    In the area of agricultural production, including the fruit, dairy and even the maple syrup businesses, food item manufacuring will be reduced due to the changing weather patterns. Some areas of the Northeast are likely to become too warm for the popular varieties of apples, cranberries and blueberries they typically grow.Conditions enabling the growth of maple, beech and birch forests are expected to dramatically shift northward, which will leave only a small fraction of the Northeast with the ability to produce maple sugar. This will also affect the fall foliage coloring that is iconic to this part of the United States.

    The changes in climate would most likely add three weeks to the already sweltering hot and humid summer months. This means summer will start three weeks earlier than it does now and will push three weeks later into the fall months. Temperatures into the hundreds would mean hardships on the elderly or those with allergies or those prone to health problems. Declining air quality is an attributing factor as well. Cities like Philadelphia and Hartford would see an average of nearly 30 days over 100 degrees.

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    Resources

    To find out more about weather changes, log on to Geology.com at - www.geology.com/climate-change/northeast/

    To read more on the NRCC's findings about weather changes, log on to Northeast Regional Climate Center at - http://www.nrcc.cornell.edu/

    Read more on the basic differences of weather and climate, log on to the National Center for Atmospheric Research at - http://www.eo.ucar.edu/basics/

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    Images

    www.geology.com/climate-change/northeast/

    www.nrcc.cornell.edu/