NH Feels the Heat from Climate Change

The weather is warming up in New Hampshire and across the country, a warning sign to a state environmental group.

An environmental protection group, Environment New Hampshire Research and Policy Center, released a report Tuesday about global warming.

The report, "Dangerous Inheritance: The Hotter, More Extreme Climate We're Passing Down to America's Youth” includes temperature and precipitation statistics and the impacts of global warming, such as drought and crop failure.

Some residents, including Derrick Moyer, owner of Tulip Tree Farm in Hampstead, said they are seeing the effects firsthand.

From year to year, Moyer said, he has noticed the difference.

Two years ago, his season started two weeks earlier than usual because of the temperature.  Last year, he said, his planting season started two weeks later because of cold temperatures.

"In the past two years, the actual crop seasons have been a month apart," he said.

Moyer sells crop shares, through which people sign up to buy certain produce. He has about 40 people signed up this year.

But this year is different, he said. In years past, customers were ready to start receiving produce by June 1. This year, he's asked customers to be flexible with the start date because of the unpredictable weather.

"That's a pretty significant change we've done to adapt to these changes," Moyer said.

Others are noticing the change as well.

"A lot of things have changed environmentally around the state," said Mary Stampone, N.H.'s state climatologist and an associate geography professor at the University of New Hampshire.

From 1901 to 1930, the average temperature in the winter was 17.9 degrees, Stampone said.  From 1981 to 2011, the average winter temperature was 21.1 degrees.

"When you progressively get warmer overall in the winter, it can impact the rain-to-snow ratio," she said.

While every winter is different, Stampone said, winters have generally gotten shorter and there tends to be more rain than snow.

The state's ski industry could impacted as a result, she said.

"Any changes in snowfall inevitably impact them in some way," Stampone said.

There will be more heavy precipitation events and, according to the report, if the Earth continues to get warmer, the sea level could also rise up to 3.6 feet by 2100, putting many coastal buildings at risk.

Storms are bigger than they used to be, according to the report. From 1970 to 2011, the Granite State saw a 40 percent increase in precipitation, according to the report.

The summertime data tells a similar tale, Stampone said.

Summer nights from 1901 to 1930, the average daily temperature was 51.2 degrees, Stampone said.  Now, it's 53.2 degrees.

Stampone has no doubt the culprit is global warming. New Hampshire temperature trends are on par with global patterns.

The national average temperature is higher than it was years ago, according to the report. In the 1970s, the national average temperature was 52 degrees; now it's 53.6 degrees.

"There's a huge amount of scientific literature that has looked at the various changes," she said.

Rep. Robert Haefner, R- Hudson, the chairman of the House Environment and Agriculture Committee, acknowledges the threat.

"There is no question in my mind that the Earth in total has warmed over the last 50 years," he said.

But to better determine the cause, Haefner said he wants to see more long-term data.

"I think the jury is still out on whether that's caused by a long-term change in the climate that's natural or if it's manmade, or some combination of the two," he said.

The report recommends federal and state lawmakers adopt the Clean Power Plan, which has been proposed by the Environmental Protection Agency.

The plan aims to set carbon emission limits for power plants.

U.S. Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, D-N.H. is on board.

"The senator believes that the EPA's Clean Power Plan is an important rule that will make states follow New Hampshire's lead in addressing carbon pollution," Shaheen spokesman Nick Brown said.

U.S. Sen. Kelly Ayotte, R-N.H., is still weighing the pros and cons of the plan.

"She believes all environmental regulations must be carefully considered on a case-by-case basis and is continuing to review EPA's proposed rule and potential impacts on New Hampshire," Ayotte spokesman Lauren Zelt said.

(c)2015 The Eagle-Tribune (North Andover, Mass.), http://www.eagletribune.com/ 

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