Warmer Air Temperatures
Temperatures are rising. Climate change has already increased average temperatures enough to shift seasons — spring comes earlier and fall frosts arrive later. These shifts in seasons compel some species to migrate farther north or to higher elevations.
According to a recent report from the U.S. Global Change Research Program:
“U.S. average temperature has risen more than 2 degrees F over the past 50 years and is projected to rise more in the future…most areas of the United States have warmed 1 to 2 degrees F compared to the 1960s and 1970s.”
Although temperatures are rising, it is important to recognize that temperatures are rising on average. Put another way, climate change increases the likeliness that a specific season or year will be warmer than the historic average. Colder-than-average temperatures are still possible in a climate-changing world; they will simply occur less frequently.
Warmer average temperatures affect almost everything. Rising air temperatures are a trigger for many other climate change impacts, such as:
- warmer water temperatures
- greater flood risk
- rising sea levels
- shifting seasons
- altered precipitation
- stronger storms
- migrating species