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New report on impacts of climate change in Vt. - WCAX.COM Local Vermont News, Weather and Sports-

New report on impacts of climate change in Vt.

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BURLINGTON, Vt. -

Tropical Storm Irene devastated communities across Vermont in 2011. Now, scientists say climate change could bring more destructive storms to the state.

"They know how vulnerable we are in cases of very heavy rain, flooding and things like that, so they're ready to act and the question is what do they do?" said Gillian Galford, a climate scientist at the University of Vermont.

The first state climate assessment in the nation is localizing concerns surrounding the effects of climate change. The assessment is geared toward encouraging Vermonters to take action through adaptation and mitigation. A group of scientists at UVM studying past and present climate trends shared how resources such as agriculture and tourism may be affected by longer summers and warmer winters.

"Forty years from now more of that precipitation will fall as rain and reduce the snowpack; snow will fall more quickly. That's going to threaten the tourism industry whether it's for skiing or snowmobiling or ice fishing," said Sam Carlson of the UVM Gund Institute.

While decades from now warmer weather will be a concern, the report found the next 25 years will bring more snowfall to the state, a positive impact for skiers as a result of climate change. But overall, climate change will lead to a decrease in livestock productivity due to dry spells and more flooding.

"We can expect more damage to our roads and to communities that are established along riverbanks and shorelines, such as we experienced in Tropical Storm Irene or the floods of April and May in 2011," said Kristen Underwood of the College of Engineering and Mathematical Sciences.

UVM researcher Gillian Galford oversaw the findings and says educating the community on proactive approaches to climate change is crucial.

"As we go ahead, let's not just build the same bridges we used to have; let's build new ones that will make us more resilient, more flexible when these extreme events happen," Galford said.

Business owners on the panel suggested getting rid of roads altogether and embracing public transportation to decrease emissions and pollution in hopes of preventing the worst effects of the climate forecast from occurring.

"We can work on adapting and mitigating, but really we have to reduce carbon by probably 80 percent or more. That means fossil fuels have to be reduced by 80 percent," said David Blittersdorf, the CEO of AllEarth Renewables.

Scientists on the panel also stressed the importance of communities working together to help implement more energy efficient practices and reach Vermont's goal of obtaining 90 percent renewable energy sources by 2050.

Click here to see the full report and detailed information on the Vermont Climate Assessment at www.vtclimate.org.

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