Climate Change & Public Health
The climate of a region is its weather averaged over many years. "Climate change", is a change in global or regional climate patterns. Widespread scientific consensus states that the climate change is ongoing and is likely caused by human activities. Climate change could negatively impact human health in several ways. We have discussed some of the most important information in the "Live Better in a Changing World" pamphlet (which can be found below), but here is some more information:
Is climate change the same everywhere?
No, climate change is global but not uniform. Connecticut as a northeastern state, has a higher increase in temperature and precipitation due to climate change.
What is the relation between temperature change and rising sea levels?
The rise in sea levels is linked to three primary factors, all induced by the ongoing global climate change:
1) Thermal expansion (About half of the past century's rise in sea level is attributable to warmer oceans simply occupying more space).
2) Melting of glaciers and polar ice caps.
3) Ice loss from Greenland and West Antarctica.
Can we undo climate change?
No, climate change is an irreversible process for multiple reasons so we have to learn to adapt to it. For example, some of the greenhouse gases persist for a long time in the atmosphere and the sea is still absorbing heat and has not yet fully expand. However, the additional future warming will be a result of our current and future emission. We have to take steps now.
What would the climate be?
The temperature is projected to increase an additional 2°F to 4°F in the next few decades.
The sea level is projected to increase 0.31 to 1.04 feet by 2030, 0.41 to 2.19 feet by 2050.
The pattern of precipitation will change, there will be more drought as well as more intermittent heavy downpour and more water will fall in the form of snow instead of snow. The annual precipitation is projected to increase 5% to 10% by 2100.
How does Town of Branford Coastal Resilience Plan work?
Using the Meadow Street neighborhood as an example:
There is a railroad underpass and allows high water to enter surrounding neighborhoods. Future daily high tides could become significantly problematic, and storm events are already an issue.
Two options are proposed to address the problem. Two maps below show how these two different options will work with the projected 2080 high tide (Fig 1). The one at the top shows a "floodable" neighborhood plan which means leave the underpass open and let floodwater come in while we elevate or relocate the properties. The one at the bottom shows an alternative plan to build a flood wall at the underpass to prevent the water from entering the neighborhood.
The vulnerability of each neighborhood will be assessed, and plans like this will be tailored for each neighborhood. There is a long way to go, but we have already started.
You can find more information in our pamphlet and in our climate change presentation in the files below.