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Federal report on global warming predicts widespread impact on U.S.

June 12, 2000
Web posted at: 6:54 a.m. EDT (1054 GMT)

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Global warming will produce widespread changes in the U.S. climate in future decades, a government report to be released Monday predicts.

Drought-like conditions will hit every region of the country, sea levels will rise and urban populations may wilt under searing temperatures, according to "Climate Change Impacts on the United States."

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The report is the first national assessment of how global warming might affect the country and economy. It projects an increase in average U.S. temperatures of between 5 and 10 degrees Fahrenheit over the next century, and details possible effects, including:

  •  Disproportionately hotter cities. Urban areas will face the double whammy of global warming and the urban heat-island effect, under which buildings and streets absorb heat, raising cities' temperatures.

  •  More extreme precipitation and faster evaporation, leading to greater frequency of very wet and very dry conditions. Drought is expected to be a growing concern in every part of the country. Floods are more likely in some regions.

  •  Extensive damage to some ecosystems. Alpine meadows in the Rocky Mountains might disappear; Southeast forests could break up into a tapestry of grasslands and woods; tree species in Northeast forests could change, with sugar maples, for example, dying out.

  •  Rising sea levels in coastal areas. That means coastal wetlands -- which serve as nurseries for marine animals, and as storm buffers for inland communities -- will continue to shrink. Coastal communities may be at greater risk for storm surges.

  •  More heat waves

  •  Increased crop yields

The assessment predicts little impact on the U.S. economy as a whole, but predicts a rough time for some communities, such as coastal areas, and some businesses, such as maple-sugar producers and ski resorts.

The report was prepared by an advisory panel that included government officials, academics, and representatives of industry and non-governmental organizations.

The report is a draft. After a public-comment period, the final assessment will be presented in the fall to Congress and the president.

The national temperature increase projected in the report is higher than global predictions for the next century, which are from 2 to 6.3 degrees Fahrenheit.

One researcher said land masses show bigger increases in temperature than the Earth as a whole, because oceans moderate the effect.



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RELATED SITES:
EPA Global Warming Site
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