Stressed trees: How climate change has affected Pennsylvania

Written by:
November 11, 2021
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Stressed trees: How climate change has affected Pennsylvania

The latest United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report is yet another reminder of the dire effects of climate change. While climate projections often look to the future when discussing the worst impacts of climate change, we are in fact already experiencing its effects across the United States. To better understand how climate change is impacting the country, Stacker compiled a list of the impacts of climate change in every state, using local and national news stories, government reports, and scientific journal articles.

While these impacts are weather-related—for example, heat waves, droughts, or storms—individual weather events cannot be attributed to climate change on their own. Rather, it is when these events are seen within larger trends that they can be understood as part of a pattern that has come out of the changing climate.

Keep reading to learn about how your state has been impacted by climate change, or read the national story here.

Pennsylvania: Stressed trees

According to The Hill, Pennsylvania is the fifth least vulnerable state to climate change. However, it is still experiencing some impacts from the warming temperatures, for example, as some of its native trees are being stressed. The black cherry and sugar maple, which are both commercially valuable hardwoods, are seeing their numbers decline, and trees that are currently dominant in the southern part of the state, such as hickories and oaks, may move northward.

Across the country, there are trends of rising temperatures, storms of increasing frequency and severity, and more erratic precipitation patterns, causing disruptions to the food systems and sometimes even resulting in death. While the U.S. government has set a target to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by at least 50% by 2030, it is clear that the climate emergency is already taking place, and along with emissions reductions, mitigation of the impacts of climate change must be prioritized as well.

Read below to see how other states in your region have been affected by climate change.

Delaware: Spilling sewage

Due to climate change, Delaware has experienced increasingly heavy rainfall, which leads to inland flooding and, during some of the worst storms, sewage overflow. During Hurricane Sandy in 2012, 3.1 million gallons of sewage spilled in Delaware. However, the state is taking climate change seriously and recently passed three new environmental bills to curb carbon emissions, expand renewable energy use, and protect its ecosystems from plastic waste.

Maryland: Severe weather in the Chesapeake Bay

Maryland's Chesapeake Bay has been impacted by the increase of severe storms caused by climate change. Both 2018 and 2019 saw record rainfall in the region, which increased sewage overflows, flooding, and water pollution. These storms also cause runoff of nitrogen, phosphorus, and sediment into the bay, which leads to more algae blooms and dead zones. Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan has taken the issue seriously and submitted a memorandum to the state's legislative leaders in October 2021 that laid out four key principles to steer climate and environmental actions in the state, including expanding land conservation and preservation and transitioning to a cleaner economy.

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