As emissions of heat-trapping bases accumulate in our atmosphere, Earth's polar regions are warming more quickly than at lower latitudes. The rapid environmental changes that result from this warming can have a significant impact on the physical and mental health of rural Alaskans: unpredictable weather and changes in the seasons have made harvesting food more difficult, hazardous, and stressful. The risk of physical injury has also increased, as poor ice, extreme weather, and coastal erosion bring new travel hazards. Increasingly difficult harvest conditions for fish, shellfish, berries, caribou, and sea mammals have also increased concerns about food security. Additionally, declines in snow pack, the threat of drought, changes in lake and river conditions, and damage and disruptions to community water systems have prompted concerns of water security. The climate-related challenge faced by Alaskas tribal health system is to recognize new health stressors and community vulnerabilities, and then find healthy adaptation strategies in an increasingly uncertain future.
In 2012, water managers in Fredericktown, Missouri, saw their city's main source of water dwindle. They used the EPAs Climate Ready Water Utilities program to consider options and develop plans to protect their water source.
After catastrophic flooding in New Orleans destroyed two hospitals, the Southeast Louisiana Veterans Health Care System is planning a replacement facility that will incorporate resilience against future extreme events.
Widespread damage from flooding at the Texas Medical Center in Houston revealed the complex's vulnerabilities. Implementing a long-term hazard mitigation plan is reducing future risks.
As reduced sea ice conditions bring increased shipping and development opportunities to the Arctic, Alaska Native Village Corporations are at the table with resource developers, representing the interests of their people and land.
Tribal communities in southeastern Alaska are partnering with federal and state agencies to investigate increasing harmful algal bloomsevents that pose human health risks to subsistence harvesters.
In Florida's humid climate, strawberry growers are in a constant battle with two kinds of fruit rot. Using a decision support system, they can save money by spraying fields only when the plant diseases are a threat.
Finding and eradicating invasive plants is a tough job that requires constant vigilance. County-scale maps that show where invasive plants are and where they have the potential to spread in the future are helping on-the-ground efforts to build the resilience of natural vegetation.
Stakeholders of the Morro Bay National Estuary Program in California worked with resources from the EPA's Climate Ready Estuaries program to identify their climate risks. Their results helped them prioritize actions for building resilience.
An interactive map based on four decades of satellite images helps residents, resource managers, and stewards of the land anticipate and plan for coastal change.
The Blue Lake Rancheria Tribe—a federally recognized Native American tribe in California—was one of 16 communities selected as a 2015–2016 Climate Action Champion by the Obama Administration for exceptional work in response to climate change.
The Tribe began its strategic climate action planning in 2008 and has become a regional leader in greenhouse gas reductions and community resiliency measures. To date, the Tribe has reduced energy consumption from 2008 levels by 35 percent and has committed to reduce greenhouse gas emissions 40 percent by 2018, utilizing a range of approaches—including aggressive energy efficiency upgrades, developing on-site renewable energy (biomass, solar, fuel cells, grid battery storage), and switching to green fuels (electricity and biodiesel).
Conservation organizations teamed up to document the climate vulnerability of mountain springs that support unique ecosystems. Now, the Alliance they formed facilitates restoration work to enhance habitats and improve resiliency.
Building on lessons learned over several summers, Kristin Raab—Health Impact Assessment and Climate Change Program Director in the Environmental Health Division of Minnesota’s Department of Health—packaged information from diverse communities into a cohesive toolkit that communities of all sizes can use to prepare for heat waves. The Minnesota Extreme Heat Toolkit describes changing weather conditions in Minnesota, the magnitude of potential health consequences from extreme heat, and key steps communities can take to prevent heat-related illnesses and deaths. The toolkit acknowledges that extreme heat response plans will vary with the size of the community and the habits of its residents: examples from the mostly rural Olmsted County and the urban centers of Saint Paul and Minneapolis illustrate a range of community plans that could be useful in Minnesota and beyond.
To manage their businesses successfully, farmers and food production companies need to know what crops are in the ground and how well they are growing. A pair of easy-to-use online mapping tools provides this information for growing seasons in the past and present.
The city of Fort Collins, Colorado, found a win-win solution to problems it faced with 100 acres of abandoned property. The city now enjoys new green space, improved floodwater management, and a boosted economy.
After a butterfly species disappeared from a location where it had been found for many years, conservation professionals accessed climate projections to identify potential habitat for its recovery.
When water utility personnel recognized their groundwater withdrawals were damaging ecosystems in the Tampa Bay area, they found new ways to reduce their dependence on it.
From weeks-long dry spells to extreme precipitation events, farmers face significant challenges in bringing crops to market. Heres how one grower uses seasonal climate forecasts to increase his chances for success.
Anticipating increasing demand as well as changes in the timing and amount of future water supply, state agencies and researchers are gathering information to help decision makers plan for Colorado's water future.
Climate change poses a threat to the traditional livelihoods and the sustainably managed forestlands of the Menominee Nation. However, climate change also presents an opportunitya chance to apply indigenous knowledge to adapt and sustain native communities, and for the Menominee Nation to share its understandings with others seeking to address this global issue.
Incorporating elders wisdom in the process of systematically analyzing climate impacts and vulnerabilities in nine categories of tribal life prioritizes actions to take to enhance the evolution of an ancient culture, while protecting tribal traditions.
Each winter, massive waves attract surfers and visitors to the North Shore of Oahu in Hawaii. Some years, the waves cause severe erosion, and continuing sea level rise will accelerate this issue. Residents and the state are taking steps to preserve homes and beaches.
Coastal habitats and archeological sites in western Alaska are at risk from coastal erosion. Researchers are documenting current assets and vulnerabilities so managers can make informed decisions.
It's not easy to keep faucets flowing year-round in southwest Florida. To make sure their customers can get ample clean water at a good priceeven through dry seasonswater utility managers crafted a useful index to help them decide which water sources to use.
In the growing season, farmers and ranchers keep a watchful eye for any sign of drought. Early warning information can increase their range of options for dealing with the lack of water.
During Hurricane Sandy, as the storm surge incapacitated buildings all along the New York and New Jersey coasts, Seagate Seagate Rehabilitation & Nursing Center functioned precisely as planned. At the peak of the storm, floodwaters filled the parking area and reached the lobby door, but did not enter the building. Emergency power generators remained safe and supplied backup power for four days despite an area-wide power outage. The nursing home’s emergency plans for food and medical supplies enabled staff and patients to shelter in place despite limited transportation for incoming supplies. Seagate not only provided continuous care to its residents during and after Sandy, it also assisted local community members seeking food and shelter.
Sea level rise is changing the shoreline of San Francisco Bay, endangering homes, habitats, and vital infrastructure. Stakeholders from a diverse array of sectors around the Bay are participating in preparations through a regional partnership.
In Massachusetts, Manchester-by-the-Sea's wastewater treatment plant is located right on the coast. The town's water utility is working with the EPA's Climate Ready Water Utilities program to consider its adaptation options.
After 90 percent of the town was damaged or destroyed by a tornado, Greensburg, Kansas, and Kiowa County Memorial Hospital developed a Long-Term Community Recovery plan to rebuild for resilience.
Trees within a city can help reduce urban heat, control stormwater, and provide habitat to local wildlife. As climate conditions change, a Chicago group is working to enhance its urban forest so that the city can continue to receive these benefits.
Lying directly south of New Orleans on Louisianas coast, Grand Isle often bears the brunt of strong waves and storm surge in the Gulf of Mexico. To protect this town and inland parishes from flooding, engineers constructed a first line of defense.
Faced with the potential of a large expense related to water quality, the Portland (Maine) Water District performed a thorough analysis of their options. Their choice came down to making an investment in conservation or concrete.
When smoke from wildfires swirls around health care facilities, prepared hospitals in California and Colorado use air quality tools to keep the indoor environment safe for patients and staff.
The combined heat and power system at Greenwich Hospital in Connecticut kept the lights on through Hurricane Sandy, and the system continues to support community resilience.
A regional conservation partnership in Massachusetts needed to update their approach to evaluating land acquisitions. Adding the complexity of climate change to their map helped resolve their vision.
As the Atlantic Ocean warms, many marine speciesincluding commercially important fish stocksare moving further north along the Northeast United States. As a consequence, fishing boats based in traditional ports need to travel further to catch the same fish, or change their strategy to pursue different species of fish. In turn, businesses that serve fishing communities may need to purchase new equipment, develop new practices, or encourage workers to gain new skills. In order for fisheries and the businesses that depend on them to prepare for such changes, fisheries managers need tools to identify which fishery resources may be most vulnerable to our changing climate.
When a flood is forecast for the Red River of the North, community leaders, emergency responders, and residents around Fargo, North Dakota, and Moorhead, Minnesota, can gauge their need for preparation by accessing visualizations showing the extent, depth, and timing of expected flooding.
The suburban city of Mount Rainier, Maryland, is doing its part to improve the water quality of a polluted river in its region: residents and organizations are using green infrastructure to reduce stormwater runoff.
Facing sea level rise, increasing numbers of wildfires, and encroachment of invasive species, managers of a national forest chose to integrate climate change into their new plan.
A federal study assessed vulnerabilities of transportation infrastructure to extreme events in Mobile, Alabama. The effort also resulted in tools and approaches that other transportation departments can use to assess and address their own vulnerabilities.
The City of Ann Arbor recognized stormwater runoff as a growing threat to the quality of their water supply. They're addressing the issue with two complementary strategies.
In the wake of a hurricane and beset by an economic recession, the University of Texas Medical Branch on Galveston Island rebuilt for future resilience.
Residents of North Slope Borough, Alaska, look to solar-powered ice cellars and other strategies to preserve their traditional whaling lifestyle.
With valuable cultural and dietary assets at risk from sea level rise, this Pacific Northwest Tribe developed a plan to identify community adaptation priorities and concerns, and charted a course of action to address them.
Dense populations of some microscopic algae (phytoplankton) in ocean waters can contaminate seafood, resulting in serious health problems for humans. Satellite data displayed in an online tool help fishermen monitor and avoid these harmful algal blooms.
As ice retreats and energy resources along Alaska's North Slope become more accessible, diverse stakeholders consider potential futures and develop a science-informed view of the implications of development in the region.
Over the past 40 years, some lobstermen in South Thomaston, Maine, say that they could "set their watches by the start of the lobster shedding event each season. In 2012, though, extreme warm ocean temperaturesan ocean heat wavecombined with early and repeated lobster shedding. The obvious changes in lobsters during this event galvanized many lobstermen to take the impacts of climate change seriously.
In the Arizona desert, farmers depend on an ample supply of irrigation to grow their crops. As climate changes, irrigation managers face a host of issues to keep the water flowing.
In the face of a changing climate, the Tribe is building capacityand climate resiliencethrough forestry management, habitat protection, and an innovative approach to healthy eating.
Several times per year, seawater floods some of the streets in Charleston, South Carolina. Taking steps to deal with this "nuisance" flooding can help the city prepare for sea level rise.
As Public Works Director of Nogales, Arizona, Alejandro Barcenas works to ensure a safe and secure water supply for the city’s 20,500 residents. His task isn’t easy: the city is located in an arid region just north of the United States–Mexico border, and its entire supply comes from groundwater.
Half of Nogales’ water comes from alluvial aquifers that are highly responsive to rainfall events. Though this convenient source of water recharges easily, it is also vulnerable to climate-related changes such as reduced precipitation and increased evaporation. The other half of the city’s groundwater comes from a lower-quality source—this water is more expensive to produce. To optimize the use of the two sources of groundwater into the future, Barcenas is contributing to the development of a modeling tool that simulates how the aquifers may change in response to climate.
Climate change adaptation isnt always welcome as a topic of conversation, even among those who could benefit from it. A recent study hints at a possible path forward.
Reduced flows and increased demand for Colorado River water represent a real and present danger in the West. To address the threat, water managers and modelers initiated a study to understand the system, consider options, and take action.
For irrigated crops, knowing when and how much water to apply has long been a matter of experience and guesswork. In a changing climate, new technology can reduce this uncertainty, enabling farmers to make every drop of water count.
As the number of ice-free days in the seas surrounding Alaska increases over time, so do opportunities. Oil and gas companies are ramping up offshore exploration and drilling in the Arctic and the shipping industry is increasing traffic around and through the region. As a result, Arctic residents may have new opportunities for jobs and development across the region. Theres also a downside to the increased activity. Oil and gas extraction operations occasionally have accidentsevents that can result in massive oil spills.
Changing conditions spur a utility in Washington, D.C., to consider and address its future climate vulnerabilitie
Coral reefs off the west coast of Maui are readily accessible and heavily used by visitors and locals alike. Managers needed a plan to boost the resilience of the reefs so they could continue providing critical habitat for marine species.
Louisianas Highway 1 carries a significant fraction of the gas and oil that comes from the Gulf of Mexico to distribution points in the United States. Faced with rising seas and sinking land, would the cost of rebuilding the road be worth the investment it required?
As the threats of tsunami and sea level rise are joined by real and potential climate impacts, the Quinault community looks to move the lower village of Taholah to higher ground.
Ranchers are participating in a pilot project to improve carbon storage and reduce net greenhouse gas emissions. After quantifying their baseline emissions and carbon storage, they implement conservation practices that may let them tap into revenue from voluntary carbon markets.