Great Lakes Pennsylvania Climate

Great Lakes Communities and Ecosystems at RiskThe Regionspacer
Confront the Challenge
• Climate in the Region
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• Overview
• Migrating Climates
• Water Resources
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• Ten Personal Solutions

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Climate Change in Pennsylvania
Climate Projections
Human Health
Property and Infrastructure
Recreation & Tourism
Water Supply & Pollution
Climate Solutions
Resources & Links

Climate Change Projections
Western Pennsylvania's climate appeals to thousands of vacationers each year. Precipitation and climate in Pennsylvania has also contributed to the success of Pennsylvania's dairy farming as well as crops such as oats, and a variety of fruits and vegetables. All of these unique features are threatened by projected changes in climate.

The latest, most reliable projections of future climate change combine 100 years of historical data for Pennsylvania with the most up-to-date general circulation models of the Earth's climate system. In general Pennsylvania's climate will grow considerably warmer and probably drier during this century, especially in the summer. As a result of these changes, by 2030 summers in Pennsylvania may feel more like current-day Indiana. By 2095, summer climate will resemble that of Kansas with winters that feel like current winters in Virginia.

Below is some more detail on these projections. For a graphical depiction, see the Migrating Climates feature.

Projected Climate Changes in Pennsylvania
Warmer Temperatures
An 6-8oF rise in winter and a 7-9oF rise in summer temperatures is projected by the end of the century.

Precipitation Changes Although average annual precipitation may not change much, an overall drier climate is expected because rainfall cannot compensate for the increase in evaporation resulting from greater temperatures. Seasonally, winter precipitation is expected to increase by 15-20% and summer precipitation is expected to decrease by 10-15%. Thus Pennsylvania may see drier soils and more summer droughts.

Extreme Events
Extreme heat will be more common, and the frequency of heavy rainstorms, both 24-hour and multiday, will increase.

Ice Cover
Declines in ice cover on the Great Lakes and inland lakes have been recorded over the past 100-150 years, although this trend has been moderated in areas of lake-effect snow and are expected to continue.

Photo Credits:
Canvasback -- National Park Service, Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore.
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