CR 14:161-173 (2000)  -  doi:10.3354/cr014161

The Mid-Atlantic Region and its climate: past, present, and future

Colin Polsky*, Jason Allard, Nate Currit, Robert Crane, Brent Yarnal

Department of Geography and Earth System Science Center, The Pennsylvania State University, University Park, Pennsylvania 16802, USA

ABSTRACT: The physical and human geographies and the historical climate of the Mid-Atlantic Region of the United States are described to provide a baseline for an ongoing assessment of likely climate change impacts in the region. This region consists of 358 counties intersecting part or all of 8 states and 4 physiographic zones. This geographic diversity provides different sets of options for societies to adapt to environmental changes. Since 1967, the region¹s human population has grown in both number (19%) and income (116%), and important local ecosystems are experiencing associated stresses. Since 1895, the region¹s climate has become slightly warmer (+0.5°C) and significantly wetter (+10%), although the warming has abated recently. Projections indicate that these broad regional socio-economic, ecological and climatic trends should persist through the 21st century. The significance of these changes in society, ecosystems and climate are evaluated in the more detailed, sector-specific analyses in the subsequent articles of this Special.


KEY WORDS: Climate change · Climate variation · Climate scenarios · Socio-economic change · Mid-Atlantic Region


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