Climate Adaptation Report

  • 2/21/2014

This climate adaptability report is based upon a wealth of information and data analysis that reflects “… [a] significant change in measures of climate (such as temperature, precipitation, or wind) lasting for an extended period (decades or longer).” The causes of this change in global climate and local weather patterns can include, “natural factors, such as changes in the sun’s intensity or slow changes in the Earth’s orbit around the sun, natural processes within the climate system (e.g. changes in ocean circulation), or human activities that change the atmosphere’s composition (e.g. burning fossil fuels) and the land surface (e.g. deforestation, reforestation, or urbanization)." Much of the data indicates that the primary factor in altering the global climate is greenhouse gas emissions from human activities.

Climate Change in the Piedmont Triad

The US Southeast appears to be fundamentally changing due to climate change in the forms of coastal flooding, more violent thunderstorms, higher temperatures, increased drought risk, and greater winter precipitation. Compared to other regions of the nation and the world, the impacts of climate change on the Triad may less dramatically alter lifestyles and the environment from today’s “normal,” but there will be fundamental changes to the region.

Before discussing the impacts of global climate changes upon weather, it is important to distinguish between the terms “climate” and “weather.” “Climate is the long-term average of the weather in a given place,” while “weather is the state of the atmosphere at any given time and place.” The history of the Piedmont Triad’s weather defines its climate; its current weather patterns may significantly deviate from this history, or may be the same. The sources of any changes to local weather patterns may be local to the region or may come from other places.

Based upon these changes and historic trends, current data, and anticipated impacts, the US Southeast is forecasted to experience the following changes in regional weather:

  • Sea level rise; 
  • Higher average annual temperatures;
  • Fewer days with freezing temperatures;
  • Greater heat stress to air and water;
  • Less water due to higher evaporation rates;
  • More intense hurricanes; and
  • Fundamental changes in the native environment.

Many more details, including impacts, strategies, supporting charts, references and more are included in the attached presentation.