News Releases from Region 04
EPA Report Tracks our Changing Climate
Highlights Impacts on Americans’ Health and Environment
ATLANTA – The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) today released a report that shows compelling and clear evidence of long-term changes to our climate, and highlights impacts on human health and the environment in the United States and around the world. The report, Climate Change Indicators in the United States, features observed trend data on 37 climate indicators, including U.S and global temperatures, ocean acidity, sea level, river flooding, droughts and wildfires.
“With each new year of data, the signs of climate change are stronger and more compelling,” said Janet McCabe, acting assistant administrator for EPA’s Office of Air and Radiation. “This report reiterates that climate change is a present threat and underscores the need to reduce greenhouse gas pollution and prepare for the changes underway, to protect Americans’ health and safeguard our children’s future.”
The report shows:
- Carbon Dioxide Levels – Average annual carbon dioxide in the atmosphere has exceeded 400 parts per million for the first time in at least 800,000 years;
- Temperatures – Average surface air temperatures have risen across the U.S. since 1901. Eight of the top 10 warmest years on record have occurred since 1998, and 2012 and 2015 were the two warmest years on record;
- Sea level – Sea level (relative to the land) rose along much of the U.S. coastline between 1960 and 2015, particularly the Mid-Atlantic coast and parts of the Gulf coast;
- Coastal Flooding – Nearly every city with a long-term measurement site has experienced an increase in tidal flooding since the 1950s;
- Arctic Sea Ice – March sea ice reached the lowest extent on record in 2015-2016;
- Marine Species Distribution – As ocean waters have warmed, marine fish and invertebrate species along U.S. coasts, such as lobster, black sea bass, and red hake are shifting northward and moving deeper in the ocean; and
- Ragweed Pollen Season – Warmer temperatures and later fall frosts are increasing the length of ragweed pollen season, which has increased at 10 out of 11 locations studied in the central United States and Canada since 1995.
This fourth edition of the report, which was last published in 2014, provides additional years of data for previously-published indicators and adds seven new indicators: heat-related illnesses; West Nile Virus; river flooding; coastal flooding; Antarctic sea ice; stream temperature; and marine species distribution. The report also features a special section that highlights the many connections between climate change and human health.
EPA partners with more than 40 data contributors from various government agencies, academic institutions, and other organizations to develop the climate change indicators. Each indicator and the report in its entirety were peer-reviewed by independent experts.