How North Carolina is already seeing the impact of climate change

Thursday, April 15, 2021
Climate of Hope: How climate change is impacting NC
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Climate change is an issue affecting the entire globe, and we are already feeling some of those impacts here in North Carolina -- most notably with heavier rainfall in the Triangle.

Climate change is an issue affecting the entire globe, and we are already feeling some of those impacts here in North Carolina.

The North Carolina Climate Risk Assessment and Resilience Plan was released in June 2020, showing how the changes have already impacted areas across the state. It also highlights future changes if we continue the same path.

Some of the key findings show that average temperatures and heavy rainfall events are increasing.

In 125 years of record-keeping, this past winter marked the second wettest winter on record -- we picked up 17.21" of rain at RDU. The wettest year on record was in 2018 -- Hurricane Florence contributed to the high rain totals that year.

On top of that, nights have been getting hotter. 2019 was the warmest year on record in North Carolina. We also set a record for the warmest lows in 2019.

Tropical systems could also continue to lead to more beach erosion along the coast. That includes those that don't make a direct landfall.

One way to combat this problem is beach replenishment, which happens when sand is brought by a dredge from offshore and pumped onto a beach. Cost is the main limitation for beach nourishment with some projects costing tens of millions of dollars.

The report also highlights the impact of sea-level rise on the North Carolina coast. The sea level is rising about twice as fast along the northeastern coast than the southeast. It rose 1.8 inches per decade at Duck and 0.9 inches in Wilmington.

High tide events are also projected to become a daily occurrence in 2100.

It's not all doom and gloom despite the latest trends, if we act now we can make changes for a more sustainable planet starting in our own backyard by recycling and lower our greenhouse emissions.

Governor Cooper also signed Executive Order No. 80 calling for a 40% drop in statewide greenhouse gas emissions by 2025. It also established the North Carolina Climate Change Interagency Council, and direct state agencies to take actions that reduce emissions and strengthen our state.

You can find out more ways to make better changes for the planet by watching Our America: Climate of Hope.

Watch "Our America: Climate of Hope," on your local ABC station, wherever you stream: Fire TV, Android TV, Apple TV and Roku beginning April 16.