June 16, 2009

Climate change: Here now and intensifying

U.S. scientists say climate change in the form of regional drought, higher temperatures and heavy rainfall is now common in many parts of the nation.

The scientists representing 13 U.S government agencies, universities and research institutes say the human-induced climate changes are likely to increase in intensity.

The 190-page study is said to be the most comprehensive report to date on national climate change, offering the latest information on rising temperatures, heavy downpours, extreme weather conditions, sea level changes and other results of U.S. climate change.

The study, led by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, focuses on effects by region and details how the nation's transportation, agriculture, health, water and energy sectors will be affected.

University of Illinois Professor Don Wuebbles, a contributor to the report, said average temperatures have risen in the Midwest during recent decades and the growing season has been extended by one week. Heavy downpours are now twice as frequent as they were a century ago and the Midwest has experienced two record-breaking floods during the past 15 years, he said.

Wuebbles said average annual temperatures are expected to increase by about 2 degrees Fahrenheit during the next few decades and by as much as 7 to 10 degrees by the end of the century.