Click to Climate: EPA's Data Tracker is Back

Our Daily Planet

After a four-year hiatus under the Trump administration, the Environmental Protection Agency's Climate Change Indicators webpage is back in action. The public portal includes data on 54 indicators including sea-level rise, Great Lakes ice cover, heat waves, river flooding, and residential energy use. In tandem with the relaunch, the EPA released a report based on the data. The "disturbing account of the startling changes," as the Washington Post wrote, includes:

EPA: Relative Sea Level Change Along U.S. Coasts, 1960–2020. This map shows cumulative changes in relative sea level from 1960 to 2020 at tide gauge stations along U.S. coasts. Relative sea level reflects changes in sea level as well as land elevation. (Data source: NOAA, 2021.)

Why This Matters

People are experiencing the impacts of climate change in their everyday lives, from hotter temperatures to more intense wildfire seasons. Creating an easy way for everyone to access climate data gives people a powerful advocacy tool. And it matters for the federal government to be transparent about the increasing, intersectional impact of the climate crisis. "We want to reach people in every corner of this country because there is no small town, big city, or rural community that's unaffected by the climate crisis," Michael Regan told reporters, as the Washington Post writes. "Americans are seeing and feeling the impacts up close with increasing regularity."

Diving into the Data

Beyond the headline-grabbing data points, here are other ways that the changing climate has been documented in the US:

  • Birds on the move: About 300 common North American birds have shifted their wintering grounds an average of 40 miles north since 1966. Birds are also shifting their winter homes inland, where it’s usually colder than on the coast.
  • River flooding shifts: Depending on where you are in the country, river flooding may have become largest and more frequent (like in the Northeast) or decreased in size and frequency (like in the Southwest). Warming temperatures change evaporation patterns, snowmelt into streams, and rainfall, which all impact flood patterns.
  • Leafing and blooming: In the North and West, fall's changing leaves and spring's first blooms are coming earlier. An earlier spring has all sorts of impacts, including a longer growing season, more invasive species, and longer allergy seasons.

To Go Deeper

Check out the webpage, its new indicators, and the specific reports here.


Copyright © 2021 Our Daily Planet. Reprinted here with permission. This version may have been edited from the original article published on May 14, 2021.