Climate Change Program for the Hudson River Estuary
Climate change is increasing the risk of flooding
in shoreline communities (C. Bowser)
The climate of the Hudson Valley is changing. Climate scientists have documented actual and expected changes in our regional climate and how these changes will affect natural and human communities in our region. Changes in our climate can affect both ground and water resources including:
- the health and productivity of our forests,
- the future of our tidal wetland communities,
- our drinking water,
- recreational opportunities,
- transportation systems, and
- coastal infrastructure.
The New England Interstate Water Pollution Control Commission (NEIWPCC) and New York State Department of Environmental Conservation's (NYSDEC) Hudson River Estuary Program, are soliciting proposals to support projects that involve planning and implementing climate change adaptation strategies for water resources and water infrastructure, especially in the face of increased flooding and intense precipitation. This can be done through a variety of mechanisms, including, but not limited to the following examples: barrier mitigation, riparian restoration and protection, green infrastructure to manage stormwater, watershed management, land use plans/policies/guidelines, water quality assessment and monitoring, water and economy. The project should be designed and implemented in partnership with the NYSDEC Hudson River Estuary Program and promote collaboration among state, county, local, and non-profit sectors.
NEIWPCC, in cooperation with the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (NYSDEC) Hudson River Estuary Program, and the New York City Department of City Planning, is soliciting proposals for the development of a plan to identify necessary scientific and technical research to advance the understanding of potential coastal green infrastructure strategies in New York City under current and projected sea-level rise scenarios.
If you are interested in either of these opportunities please go to the NEIWPCC website for information on applying.
Why is the climate changing?
As the sun warms the Earth, the Earth radiates heat. Certain gases, called greenhouse gases (GHGs), trap some of this heat in the lower atmosphere. Some human activities, like burning fossil fuels, release GHGs into the atmosphere and intensify the greenhouse effect, warming the earth. This warming, called global warming, is affecting long-term weather patterns, or climates, around the world and in the Hudson Valley. For more information on why the climate is changing see the Climate Science Basics page.
How much has the climate changed?
- New York State's average temperature has gone up nearly 2ºF in 30 years.
- Winter average temperatures have warmed even faster, 5ºF in 30 years.
- Bloom dates of many plant species are 4-8 days earlier on average than they were in the early 1970s.
- Average rainfall and the intensity of heavy downpours are increasing, and days with snow cover are decreasing.
- Sea level in New York Harbor is 15 inches higher today than it was in 1850.
What kinds of changes can we expect in the future in the Hudson Valley?
Shorter, warmer winters and longer, hotter summers will affect local farmers and winter recreation, and may increase diseases carried by insect populations as they shift northward.
Much of the railroad infrastructure in the
Hudson Valley, like this Metro North station,
will be affected by sea level rise
- Rising sea levels and strong storms will cause localized floods and threaten shoreline infrastructure and development.
- Rising summer air temperatures will increase pollution-related asthma and heat exhaustion, especially in urban areas.
- Invasive species and nuisance plants will thrive under elevated atmospheric CO2 levels.
How can we respond to climate change?
The severity of climate change we see will depend on energy choices we make today and over the next decade. The Hudson River Estuary Program is working with NYSDEC's Climate Change Office and regional partners to help communities understand the sources and projected impacts of climate change and to coordinate regional responses.
How can local governments reduce greenhouse gas emissions?
- Organize a task force and complete a greenhouse gas emissions inventory. For more information see links to ICLEI Local Governments for Sustainability and The Climate Registry in the Links Leaving DEC's website on the right side of this page.
- Reduce greenhouse gas emissions and save money by improving the energy efficiency of municipal buildings and operations
- Install solar, wind or other renewable energy technologies in power facilities
- Add hybrid and more fuel-efficient vehicles to government fleet
- Reduce solid waste through recycling programs
How can local governments adapt to a changing climate?
Identify potential impacts (e.g. increased risk of flooding)
Wetlands help to absorb floodwaters
- Develop emergency management teams and improve emergency communication
- Keep development out of flood-prone areas
- Manage stormwater to reduce flooding and find alternatives to paved surfaces
- Conserve wetlands and forests that absorb floodwaters and recharge groundwater
Communities Taking Action in the Hudson Valley and New York State
Over 90 local governments in New York State have taken the Climate Smart Community Pledge. Is your community taking action? Find out and read more about communities that are taking steps to limit emissions and adapt to climate change.
What can I do to help?
Reduce greenhouse gas emissions and save money by improving energy efficiency
Planting trees along streams helps to protect water quality
and moderate increasing water temperatures. As the trees
grow they also absorb greenhouse gases. (J. Karpova)
- Walk, bike or carpool to work or on errands
- Buy Energy Star appliances
- Support green power. Check your utility's website for more information
- Get involved in your local government! Encourage your community to adopt the Climate Smart Community Pledge or organize a community presentation or event on climate change
How can I learn more about climate change in the Hudson Valley?
Revitalizing Hudson Riverfronts
Scenic Hudson, NYSDEC Hudson River Estuary Program and Hudson River National Estuarine Research Reserve are partnering to bring waterfront forums to Hudson River shoreline communities. The forums, entitled Revitalizing Hudson Riverfronts: Opportunities in an Era of Global Climate Change, define both the challenges and the opportunities associated with climate change along our riverfronts and offer insights into the policy options that can help to foster vibrant, productive and resilient Hudson River waterfronts for decades to come.
The first event was held in Beacon in fall of 2011. Since then three others have been organized in Kingston, Hudson and, the most recently, Peekskill. The Peekskill event was co-hosted by Historic Hudson Rivertowns and the City of Peekskill and invited riverfront communities from Westchester County. VHB (Vanasse, Hangen and Brustlin) has co-sponsored all of the forums.
Turnout surpassed 100 local participants at the Peeksill event. Discussion focused on both potential and realized coastal flooding issues, many of which were experienced by riverfront communities during the recent Hurricane Sandy event. More information and copies of the presentations are available on the Hudson River National Estuarine Research Reserve website.
Scenic Hudson, NYSDEC Hudson River Estuary Program and Hudson River National Estuarine Research Reserve will be partnering with the Consensus Building Institute in the coming months to organize a waterfront flooding task force in the City of Kingston. With the mayor's support a team of community members will take a close look at the Rondout-Hudson waterfront, identify the most vulnerable assets and evaluate adaptation strategies to make the waterfront resilient for decades to come. The first meeting of the task force will be on December 6th from 2:45 to 6 p.m. at the Kingston City Hall.
The Estuary Program offers several outreach programs addressing climate change in the in the Hudson Valley.
The Climate Change Network offers an excellent opportunity for agency staff, organizations, businesses, and municipalities to:
- stay up to date on the latest in climate science and policy,
- learn about upcoming events and funding opportunities,
- work collaboratively on local climate initiatives,
- and network with other organizations in the Hudson Valley that are working on climate change
The Climate Network is a collaboration between the DEC Hudson River Estuary Program, the Hudson River National Estuarine Research Reserve, and The Nature Conservancy.
Email email@example.com to join the Network.
Community Presentations: Estuary Program staff and partners are available to give presentations in communities throughout the Hudson River Estuary Watershed. Custom presentations can also be developed to meet your local government or organization's needs. Contact Kristin Marcell at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
Estuary Program and the NYS
Climate Change Office offer information
and activities for students. (C. Bowser)
Kristin Marcell, Special Projects Coordinator
NYSDEC Hudson River Estuary Program, 21 South Putt Corners Rd., New Paltz, NY 12561
Fact Sheet: Climate Change in the Hudson Valley
- Download the pdf version of the text above in the Fact Sheet on Climate Change in the Hudson Valley (PDF) (210 KB)
The resource below offer information on climate changes we can expect to see in the state and the Hudson Valley and on state and regional initiatives to limit emissions and adapt to climate change. For additional information on the topics described below, please use the links in the menu on the right side of this page.
Projected Effects of Climate Change in New York State and Recommendations for Response
- Sea Level Rise Task Force: This Task Force was created in 2007 by the New York State Legislature to assess impacts to the state's coastlines from rising seas and make recommendations for a state response. The task force delivered its final report to the Legislature on December 31, 2010.
- NYS Climate Action Plan: Executive Order No. 24, passed in 2009, set a goal to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in New York State by 80 percent below the levels emitted in 1990 by the year 2050. The Order also created the New York Climate Action Council (CAC) and charged it with preparing a Climate Action Plan. The Climate Action Plan will assess how all economic sectors can reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and adapt to climate change and foster a clean energy economy. An interim report was released in November 2010. For more information, please see the Links Leaving DEC's website in the menu on the right side of this page.
- New York City Panel on Climate Change Climate Risk Information Document: This report summarizes projected climate change in New York City. For more information, please see the Links Leaving DEC's website in the menu on the right side of this page.
- New York City Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) Climate Assessment and Action Plan: This report summarizes projected climate change in the New York City metro region and outlines the strategies that the DEP plans to use to prepare for a changing climate. For more information, please use Links Leaving DEC's Website in the menu on the right side of this page.
- Rising Waters: The Nature Conservancy led a collaborative effort with the Hudson River Estuary Program, Hudson River National Estuarine Research Reserve, Cornell University, the Institute for Ecosystem Studies, and Sustainable Hudson Valley to engage scientists and regional stakeholders in a long term planning process to outline key regional threats associated with climate change in the Valley, how they will change over time, and natural and human communities at highest risk. For more information, please see the Links Leaving DEC's website in the menu on the right side of this page.
- Northeast Regional Climate Impacts Assessments: These reports produced by the Union of Concerned Scientists outline the effects of climate change in the US Northeast. For more information, please see the Links Leaving DEC's website in the menu on the right side of this page.
- Climate Change and the Hudson Valley, December 4, 2006: The materials from this conference provide background on the projected impacts of climate change in the Hudson Valley.
- Hudson Valley Climate Change Network meeting, August 13, 2012: This meeting included presentations on new climate-related research by Cornell University on 1) municipal officials' attitudes on climate change and 2) the relationship between watershed land use and flooding during heavy rainfall events and how this information can be used to estimate green infrastructure needs to offset potential increased rainfall from climate change. It also included presentations on the Cleaner Greener Communities regional sustainability planning processes in the Hudson Valley and the Capital District.
Programs to Limit Emissions in New York State
- New York State Office of Climate Change: This program coordinates closely with other DEC programs and New York State agencies to develop programs and policies that mitigate greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and help New York communities and individuals adapt to climate change.
- The Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative: Under the RGGI agreement, the governors of 10 Northeastern and Mid-Atlantic States have committed to cap the amount of carbon dioxide (or CO2, the principal greenhouse gas) that power plants are allowed to emit. This program is a national model.
- New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA): This state agency offers financial and technical assistance to businesses, municipalities, and homeowners to improve energy efficiency and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. For more information, please see the Links Leaving DEC's website in the menu on the right side of this page.
- The Climate Registry: This program has developed a system for emissions reporting that provides accurate, complete, consistent, and verified emissions data that allows members to publicly report greenhouse gas emissions on an annual basis. For more information, please see the Links Leaving DEC's website in the menu on the right side of this page.
- Cities for Climate Protection Campaign: This not for profit program of ICLEI - Local Governments for Sustainability works with municipalities to help them measure and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. It also guides communities interested in planning for climate adaptation. For more information, please see the Links Leaving DEC's website in the menu on the right side of this page.
More about Climate Change Program for the Hudson River Estuary:
- Hudson Valley Climate Change Conference, December 4, 2006 - On December 4, 2006 the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) through its Climate Change Policy Office and Hudson River Estuary Program, held a one-day conference for local decision-makers to discuss climate change issues and their potential impacts on the Hudson River Valley.