Climate Change in West Virginia

West Virginia’s state fish, the brook trout, is feeling the effects of a warming planet. As rain patterns change, air temperatures rise, and waters warm, brook trout are losing habitat. Climate change isn’t just hurting wildlife. Communities are facing increased flooding and extreme weather events like tornadoes.

As a state and as a nation we need to act now on sensible solutions to keep our environment from rapidly warming.

What is Climate Change?

Let’s start with the basics. Climate change is a change in global or regional climate patterns, in particular a change apparent from the mid to late 20th century that is attributed largely to increased levels of atmospheric carbon dioxide. Climate change is caused by pollution from human activity. While some people try to deny climate change, 97% of scientists around the world agree that our planet is warming.

Climate change is a global problem. The United Nations panel on climate change predicts that global temperatures could rise of 2.5 – 10 °F over the next century. If global average temperatures rise more than 3° to 5°F, up to 30 percent of plant and animal species could become extinct.

In order to avoid the most severe impacts of climate change, the United States must reduce greenhouse gas emission dramatically within the next decade.

How is Climate Change Affecting West Virginia?

Most of the state has already warmed .5 to 1 degree (F) in the last century. That may sound like a small change, but it is a big deal. Future affects of climate change in West Virginia include an increase in flooding; impacts on ecosystems and wildlife; an increase some health problems like asthma, and some of our favorite recreational activities like skiing will be threatened. These problems could be devastating to our economy, public health and natural environment. We need to act now!

Take Action!

Call on Senator Manchin to protect vulnerable species, like the brook trout, from climate change! Sign our petition here.

Learn More: WV Climate and Water Webinar Series

West Virginians are seeing the effects of the changing climate and researchers across the state are studying what it means for West Virginia. WV Rivers highlighted a few of the scientists on the front-line of the climate crisis through our Climate and Water Webinar Series. Watch recordings of the webinars below.

Dr. Than Hitt is a fish biologist with the USGS Leetown Science Center in Kearneysville WV. During the webinar, he discusses his research on trout population and community ecology in Appalachia.

Dr. Omar Abdul Aziz is an Associate Professor of Civil & Environmental Engineering at West Virginia University. During the webinar he discusses his work on climate impacts, increasing hurricanes and storms, and freshwater flooding in the coastal areas.

Dr. Nicolas Zegre is the Director of the Mountain Hydrology Laboratory at West Virginia University. During the webinar, he shares his research on water security and climate change from a West Virginia perspective.

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