Here’s How Climate Change Will Affect the U.S., by Region

Climate change is upon us, but a lot of people in the United States still don’t understand how it will realistically affect them. Okay, that makes sense. Maybe you live in the middle of the country, so something like rising sea levels doesn’t really matter to you. It’s important to know that there are still major problems headed your way.

Let’s take a moment to make climate change a little more personal by going through how it will affect each of us in the U.S.—region by region—according to data presented by the 2018 4th National Climate Assessment.

New England Barn in the Snow

Northeast

It’s gonna get wicked hot. You can expect to see the largest temperature increase on the U.S. mainland—3.6 degrees F in the next 15 years. You can forget about those quintessential New England winters. Winters will get warmer three times faster than summers.

Northeasterners can also expect the highest rates of sea level rise and ocean warming in the country.

This won’t just hurt our environment—it will affect our mental health. We can expect to see a spike in anxiety, depression, and PTSD as communities and the iconic marshes, unique ecosystems and fisheries of coastal landscapes are irrevocably changed by intensifying storm surges.

Arguably as sad, expect maple syrup shortages.

Summer sunset off the Blue Ridge Parkway at the Flat Rock overlook

Southeast

Think the south is already unbearably sticky and muggy? Get ready, y’all. Extreme temperature increases and extreme precipitation is likely to cause increased flooding in the south. That also means that blood-suckers, like mosquitos and ticks, will flourish, which excites no one.

Oh, and if you’re looking for some relief in the ocean, the waters will be no safer. Warming oceans will encourage invasive and venomous lionfish to come closer to the coast line and threaten swimmers who are looking to cool off.

Magical sunrise through ground fog with long shadows and sunbeams

Midwest

The Midwest is home to 127 million acres of active farmland, and climate change will not be kind to agriculture. Many crop yields will drop by 25 percent because of the temperature increase and a surge in pests and disease. Growing food will become harder and harder.

The Great Lakes—which represent 20 percent of the freshwater on our planet—will experience toxic algae blooms that will starve the waters of oxygen and life.

It’s already started. Neither land nor water is safe.

North Dakota Prairie

Great Plains

In the north, winters will end earlier and snowfall could decline by as much as 40 percent—hurting the tourism economy as well as the delicate ecosystem balance. While indigenous people living in this region are already struggling with access to clean water, it will only get worse.

In the south, heat waves, drought, hurricanes, tornadoes, flooding and other severe weather patterns will become even more intense. Fresh water sources will deplete exponentially, and there will be serious water shortages for locals.

Sun Shines Through Evening Fog

Northwest

If you already think the Pacific Northwest is too rainy, you’re not going to like what’s to come. Lots of rain, flooding and landslides are in the climate forecast.

Warming weather will cause less snowfall in winter, which means less snowpack, which will seriously impact water supply, precious salmon habitats, outdoor recreation and agriculture. Wildfire risk is also likely to worsen in some areas.

Essentially, the weather is going to get turned up to 11.

Spring desert wildflowers in Anza Borrego Desert State Park, CA

Southwest

The ecological diversity of this region, particularly California, is going to take a big hit. Heat waves, droughts, water shortages and wildfires will continue to increase and ravage the area.

Agriculture will take a major hit too, leading to food shortages nationwide.

In a region that is already running out of water, things are only going to get worse for residents as current water sources dwindle into nonexistence.

Bald Eagle watching a stunning sunset on the Cook inlet in Alaska

Non-Contiguous US

Alaska, Hawaii and the Caribbean are all going to experience their own unique emergencies.

Alaska is already losing its marine diversity, which will eventually cause Alaskans to take an economic hit as their towns continue to sink into the melting permafrost.

Climate change is already impacting the Caribbean, as intensifying storms have started battering places like Puerto Rico.

Hawaii will succumb to devastating sea level rise, widespread loss of its diverse flora and fauna, severe rainfall, freshwater scarcity and more. It’s going to be tough to be an island in the coming years.

No one is ready for climate change, and we’re all going to pay a price. What are you going to do to stop it?

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64 comments

Gino C
Gino C1 days ago

thanks very much

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Leo C
Leo C5 days ago

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Leo C
Leo C6 days ago

Thank you for sharing!

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Hannah A
Hannah A7 days ago

Thank you

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Leo Custer
Leo C8 days ago

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Carla G
Carla G8 days ago

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Leo Custer
Leo C9 days ago

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Dr. Jan Hill
Dr. Jan Hill11 days ago

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Leo Custer
Leo C12 days ago

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Peggy B
Peggy B13 days ago

Noted

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