WHAT IS HAPPENING ?
WHAT IS THE EVIDENCE ?
Carbon dioxide (CO2) levels in the atmosphere have been rising since the industrial revolution and now exceed 410 parts per million (ppm). CO2 is a leading greenhouse gas (GHG). The last time the Earth's system had this much CO2 in the air was over 5.3 to 2.6 million years ago. The world was about 3 degrees centigrade warmer and the sea levels were higher than today.
WHAT ARE THE EFFECTS ?
The global effects of climate change vary for different places on the planet. Some places will experience more rain, some less. Drought will be more frequent affecting agriculture, water resources will become strained. Many places will experience increased heat and heatwaves; wildfires become more frequent as forests dry out; loss of biodiversity and species extinctions; polar ice-sheets melting causing sea levels to rise. These are some of the main consequences when the Earth's climate system becomes destabilized and we are already experiencing many of these impacts.
WHAT WILL HOLYOKE EXPERIENCE ?
In the next 50 - 60 years, when global warming crosses the 2 degree Centigrade threshold, Massachusetts' average summer and winter temperatures are projected to increase by over 60 degrees fahrenheit relative to re-industrial levels. Summer in Massachusetts by 2100, will feel like typical summers in South Carolina. The coldest winters will feel like the warmest of former years.
Holyoke will see temperatures rise along with the rest of the Northeastern USA. This will particularly affect the urban areas which have lots of hard paving and few trees. Hard surfaces absorb solar radiation during the day and release it at night. This warming of the city, compared to the suburbs or rural areas outside the downtown is called the Urban Heat Island Effect. (UHIE)
Resilient MA Climate Change Clearing House for the Commonwealth predicted the following trends to grow stronger.