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10 Ways Climate Change Impacts Westchester

Car pulled from Larchmont Gardens Lake due to flooding after Hurricane Ida in September 2021

In case you didn’t notice, Spring came a lot earlier this year, along with some very heavy recent rains. If you think it’s just “the usual crazy weather,” think again. In fact, the direct impacts of climate change on all livings things– animals, plants, and insects– are right in your own backyard. Here are some key facts to show what climate change is doing to local Westchester communities and throughout New York State.

1. Annual temperatures in Westchester and New York State have increased 3 degrees Fahrenheit since 1970, higher than the national average.

2. Warmer winters: Winters are warming three times as fast as our summers– warming that’s caused by emissions of greenhouse gasses.

3. Less snow with our warmer winters; more rain instead of snow and fewer days below freezing.

4. Drier Soil and Increased Risk of Wildfires: Less snowfall puts some plants at risk and causes drier soil conditions, increasing the risk of wildfires. Wildfires in Westchester and New York State are projected to increase.

5. Warming ocean temperatures off the coast are causing some fish species to move north or die off. This includes  species like northern shrimp, surf clams, and Atlantic cod, which are declining as waters warm. Other fish species, such as black sea bass, are increasing, as noted by the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (NYSDEC), in a detailed report.

6. Extreme weather events are increasing as more warm and moist air, generated partly from warmer ocean waters, energizes hurricanes, nor’easters and other storms. Examples: Superstorm Sandy in 2012, and Hurricane Ida, in late summer 2021, which inundated the metropolitan area with record rain.

7. Heavy rains, like the recent deluge of  April 29 and 30, causes major disruptions and dangerous conditions. Up to six inches of rain fell in 60 hours, according to the New York Post.

8. Earlier Spring increases the length of the growing season and has other advantages. But it also brings many negatives, including more invasive species, weed growth and crop disease and increased demand for irrigation, creating pressure on our water system, NYSDEC reports.

9. Extreme heat events are increasing with dangerous impacts on towns and cities because of the “heat island effect,” increasing health risks and driving up energy use because of air conditioners.

10. Sea level rise poses serious flooding risks to areas along Long Island Sound and the mid-to lower Hudson River tidal areas, the NYSDEC reports.

All of these impacts are documented by the New York State Climate Impacts Assessment and by the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (NYSDEC). For more info, please see https://nysclimateimpacts.org/news/.

Joyce Newman
Joyce Newmanhttps://joycehnewman.wordpress.com/
Joyce H. Newman is an Emmy Award-winning environmental journalist, educator, and gardener. She holds a Certificate in Horticulture from The New York Botanical Garden, and is a tour guide there.

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Anne Gold
June 23, 2023 4:04 PM

Important topic! Thank you!

Robert Levinson
Robert Levinson
June 2, 2023 7:39 PM

If we ignore the realities of the changes in our global climate we’ll all be gone in a generation or two. Bob

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