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US water strategy and the response to climate change

Courtesy of US EPA – Environmental Protection Agency
Originally published Mar. 2008

A long-term, international investment in scientific study of the Earth’s climate is now resulting in a scientific consensus concerning climate change and its impacts on water resources. The ’National Water Program Strategy: Response to Climate Change’ provides an overview of the potential effects of climate change on water resources and the US clean water and safe drinking water programs. It also describes specific actions the National Water Program will take to adapt program implementation in light of climate change.

EPA Administrator Stephen Johnson has identified “clean energy and climate change” as a top Agency priority, and EPA national and Regional offices are working to define strategies and actions in this area. This Response to Climate Change is intended to support the Administrator’s priority as well as complement the EPA Office of Air and Radiation’s leadership of climate change policy and program development and the Office of Research and development’s management of climate change–related research.

Climate change will have numerous and diverse impacts, including impacts on human health, natural systems, and the built environment. Many of the consequences of climate change relate to water resources, including:

• warming air and water;
• change in the location and amount of rain and snow;
• increased storm intensity;
• sea level rise; and
• changes in ocean characteristics.

It is important to note that not all the near-term impacts of climate change are expected to be disruptive, and this Strategy focuses on impacts that are of concern for water programs.