What Does Climate Change Look Like in New Hampshire?

Hampshire is renowned for its picturesque landscapes, abundant natural resources, and opportunities for outdoor recreation. However, the state faces significant challenges due to the evolving climate, which pose threats to its environment, economy, and overall quality of life. Here, we outline some of the impacts and difficulties that New Hampshire encounters as a result of climate change.

Escalating Temperatures and Unpredictable Weather

As per the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the majority of New Hampshire has experienced a temperature increase of two to three degrees Fahrenheit over the past century. This warming trend is anticipated to persist, with projections indicating a potential four to ten-degree Fahrenheit increase by the century’s end. Elevated temperatures lead to various repercussions, including:

  • Prolonged and intensified heat waves, heightening the risk of heat-related illnesses, respiratory issues, and fatalities.
  • Shifts in the timing of spring and fall, disrupting natural cycles for plants and animals, impacting agriculture and tourism, and amplifying vulnerability to pests and diseases.
  • Diminished snowfall and snow cover, reducing water availability, affecting winter recreation and tourism, and endangering habitats of cold-adapted species.
  • More frequent and severe storms, floods, and droughts, resulting in property damage, infrastructure deterioration, and escalated costs for disaster response and recovery.

Rising Sea Levels and Coastal Erosion

Despite its limited coastline, New Hampshire is exceptionally susceptible to sea level rise and coastal erosion. The sea level along the state’s coast has risen approximately eight inches since 1900, with projections estimating an additional one to four feet rise by 2100. This could lead to:

  • Increased flooding and storm surge, inundating low-lying areas, eroding beaches and wetlands, and damaging coastal infrastructure and property.
  • Saltwater intrusion, contaminating freshwater sources, affecting drinking water and irrigation, and causing harm to coastal ecosystems and wildlife.
  • Depletion of coastal habitats, diminishing the biodiversity, productivity, and resilience of coastal ecosystems, impacting services such as fisheries, recreation, and protection.

Strategies for Mitigation and Adaptation

New Hampshire is actively addressing the root causes and repercussions of climate change while preparing for future impacts. Key actions and initiatives include:

  • Curbing greenhouse gas emissions through the promotion of energy efficiency, renewable energy, and low-carbon transportation, and participation in regional cap-and-trade programs like the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative.
  • Enhancing climate resilience by identifying vulnerabilities and risks in different sectors and regions, implementing adaptation plans and policies, and strengthening the capacity and coordination of stakeholders and communities.
  • Supporting research and education to advance scientific understanding and monitoring of climate change and its impacts, and fostering awareness and engagement among the public and decision-makers.

Addressing climate change is a pressing and intricate challenge that demands sustained and collaborative efforts from all levels of government, businesses, organizations, and individuals. Through collective action, New Hampshire can reduce greenhouse gas emissions, enhance climate resilience, and safeguard its natural and cultural heritage.

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