Climate Change in the Northeast

  The Northeast region is characterized by four distinct seasons and a diverse landscape. These play a role that is central to the region’s cultural identity, quality of life, and economic success.  The seasonal climate, natural systems, and accessibility of certain types of recreation are threatened by declining snow and ice, rising sea levels, and rising temperatures. As both the most heavily forested and most densely populated region in the country, challenges are complex and unique.  The Northeast Climate Adaptation Science Center, a partnership between federal and university researchers, have assembled climate change and natural resources management expertise from across our region to address the impacts and build resiliency through adaptaiton. 


Where we Work



Region by the Numbers

  • 22 States
  • 41% of us population(131 million+)
  • 60 federal recognized tribes
  • Highest ratio of forest land in the US
  • 84% of North America’s surface freshwater
  • Temperatures have increased up to 3°F 
  • Winters have warmed 3x faster than summers  

Projected Changes

  • Sea level rise at least 1 meter this century
  • 50% of important fisheries and coastal species at risk
  • $5.3 billion potential annual impact expense 
  • Project rise of 3.6°F by 2035
  • Projected temperature rise two decades                   before other areas
  • Projected 360 deaths per year related to                          air quality by 2090



Climate change has already begun affecting the physical and biological environments of the Northeast region, and is expected to intensify in coming decades. As a consequence of increasing temperatures, sea level will rise by at least 1 meter on the east coast this century, with even greater coastal impacts from storm surges in areas that have seen major population increases. These physical changes may lead to large numbers of evacuated and displaced populations and damaged infrastructure; sustaining communities may require significant investment and planning to provide emergency response efforts, a long-term commitment to rebuilding and adaptation, and support for relocation. 


All of these changes will have profound effects on aquatic and terrestrial ecosystems across the region, changing forest types and aquatic environments, affecting fish community structure and the timing of migratory wildlife. Understanding how climate affects habitats and other conditions for fish and wildlife populations will be essential for decision makers challenged with balancing multiple land uses, including agriculture, forestry, water allocations, energy, and transportation. Obtaining the best regional estimates for a range of probable climate change scenarios is a critical task to aid natural resource managers and other stakeholders.


Climate Change Threats

Threats to Wildlife, Natural Systems, and Cultural Resources

Examples of Our Work to Advance Actionable Climate Adaptation Science

Temperature Changes

Changing temperature has a variety of effects on wildlife, increasing risk of wildfires and shrinking habitat ranges for species. 

Snow and Precipitation

Altered precipitation and snowfall impacts the make up of ecosystems of wildlife, altering food availability and increasing prevalence of parasites such as ticks and mosquitoes. 

Extreme Weather and Compounding Impacts

Compounding impacts of climate change can alter migration periods of species and result in a seasonal gap between dependent species.  

Sea Level Rise

Sea level rise threatens habitats of many coastal species who rely on at-risk saltwater marshes and estuaries. 

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