What does climate change mean for Idaho

… in North America

Slowly and in the worst case inexorably, climate change is changing landscapes and living conditions in all parts of the world. In the USA and Canada, too, the enormous consequences for ecosystems, agriculture, industry, health and society can no longer be overlooked. For example, the Canadian primeval forests are just as important for the earth's climate as the rainforests of the tropics. But logging and the rising temperatures are affecting the forests. Without them, however, the earth would lack important CO2 stores, irretrievable habitats and unique, characteristic landscapes. Canada's caribou herds have long been taking a different route, and environmentalists have been watching with concern for years that Canadian polar bears are becoming lighter and giving birth to fewer young.

As a result of global warming, the permafrost soils of Canada and Alaska are thawing. The soil cannot hold the water, silting up is one of the consequences. Because lakes that are thousands of years old evaporate and seep away, the habitat and source of drinking water for numerous animals dry up.

In the Northwest of the USA, in Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New Hamshire, Maine and Vermont, summer is already setting in earlier and is taking longer than before. The ice cover on lakes and rivers is getting thinner and breaking up again sooner, in winter it will rain more than it does today. The forests, famous for their autumn colors, will change, and the ski areas will probably become smaller in the future. The northeast of the USA will also have to reckon with less snow in the future. The rivers in Washington, Idaho, Montana and Oregon already carry less water, which will pose major problems for the entire region: The risk of insect pests and forest fires increases due to lack of water and higher temperatures. Sea level rise is an acute threat to many coastal cities, washes away land on all coasts of the United States and threatens to salinize groundwater and soils near the coast. Water shortages and summer heat will severely impact Chicago, Philadelphia, New York City, Boston and many other cities with high levels of air and ozone pollution. Agriculture in the United States is grappling with crop losses and difficult conditions for keeping livestock. For many scientists there is no question that climate change in the USA will decisively change landscapes, industries, agriculture and, last but not least, social coexistence.