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Nation/World

May 7, 2014

Climate report identifies concerns for Northeast

A report by the National Climate Assessment lists concerns for the Northeast because of climate change including more days over 90 degrees, increased cases of Lyme disease and West Nile virus, changes to commercial fishing areas and coastal erosion.

HEAT WAVES IN BIG CITIES: Climate change is expected to bring many more days with temperatures above 90 degrees, with cities being hotter than other places because of all the asphalt, concrete and less vegetation. The report cites projections that heat-related deaths in Manhattan could increase by 50 percent to 91 percent in the 2080s. More ground-level ozone is expected to lead to more emergency department visits for children with ozone-related asthma.

LYME DISEASE AND WEST NILE VIRUS: The Northeast is already home to the most Lyme disease cases in the U.S. Researchers are concerned that projected increases in precipitation will create more ideal conditions for Lyme disease-carrying ticks, as well as mosquitoes with West Nile virus. The report says suitable habitat for the Asian Tiger Mosquito, which can transmit West Nile virus and other diseases, is expected to increase dramatically by the end of the decade.

THREATS TO FISHERIES: Suitable habitat for fish and shellfish is expected to shift northward because of increasing ocean temperatures. As a result, lobster and cod fisheries south of Cape Cod are expected to see significant declines. But suitable habitats could increase in the region for warmer-water fish, including bass.

RISING SEA LEVELS: Higher seas and increased coastal erosion could threaten power plants and other shoreline infrastructure. Boston alone could see as much as $94 billion worth of damages to buildings and associated emergency costs through 2100, depending on how much the sea level rises. Global sea levels are expected to rise 1 to 4 feet. With a 2-foot sea rise and no changes in storms, the frequency of dangerous coastal flooding through most of the Northeast would more than triple.

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