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Implications of Climate Change for Recreation in the United States


Implications of Climate Change for Recreation in the United States Sarah Nicholls, Bas Amelung and David Viner Introduction to Climate Change Purpose – PowerPoint PPT presentation

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Title: Implications of Climate Change for Recreation in the United States

Implications of Climate Change for Recreation in
the United States Sarah Nicholls, Bas Amelung and
David Viner
Introduction to Climate Change
  • The worlds climate is changing. According to the
    Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC,
  • The global average surface temperature has
    increased 0.6 0.2C since 1861
  • The 1990s were the warmest decade, and 1998 the
    single warmest year, since records began
  • Since the 1860s, global average sea level has
    risen 0.1 to 0.2 meters.
  • Global land and marine surface temperature,
  • (Source Jones et al., 1999 Jones Moberg,
  • While estimates vary depending upon the modeling
    procedures and assumptions used, climate change
    scenarios suggest that global average surface
    temperature will increase by between 1.4 and
    5.8C between 1990 and 2100. Projections
    regarding global mean sea level indicate a rise
    of between 0.09 and 0.88 meters over the same
    period. An increase in the frequency and
    intensity of extreme weather events (floods,
    droughts, heat waves, etc.) is also expected
    (IPCC, 2001).

Figure 1A TCI (January, 1961-1990, left) and 1B
TCI (January, 2040-2069, right)
The purpose of the study was to identify the
potential impacts of projected climate change on
recreational and general tourism activity in the
United States over the next century, based on
calculation of TCI comfort levels as suggested by
Mieczkowski. A detailed methodology is available
from the authors upon request.
Results and Discussion
The TCI was calculated for every month for four
time periods, the 1970s (1961-1990), the 2020s
(2010-2039), the 2050s (2040-2069) and the 2080s
(2070-2099). A single climate change scenario
(A2A with the HadCM3 GCM) was used. Figures 1 and
2 illustrate TCI levels across the entire United
States in January (1) and July (2) for the 1970s
(A) and 2050s (B). Our exploration suggests that
climate change will affect the climatic
suitability of the United States for general
tourism and recreation activities over the next
century. However, the projected changes between
the 1970s and the 2050s vary by region and
season. As demonstrated in Figure 1 (for
January), there is likely to be little change in
outdoor comfort levels in late fall and winter
(November-February), with Florida remaining the
most desirable location for outdoor activities
from a climatic perspective. Early spring (March)
is likely to see some improvement in outdoor
comfort levels across the entire nation, while
summer (June-September) is likely to see a
deterioration in almost all areas other than
Alaska and parts of the north-west. This probable
decline in outdoor comfort levels is demonstrated
by the decline in orange and yellow shaded areas,
and northwards shift of blue and green areas,
between Figures 2A and 2B (for July). In late
spring (April, May) and mid-fall (October), there
is likely to be improvement in outdoor comfort
levels in the northern states, but deterioration
in the south. Figure 3 demonstrates the range of
potential impacts on tourism and recreation
comfort levels across four representative urban
areas, Anchorage, Boston, San Francisco and
Miami. ?In Anchorage, climate change may
eventually lead to a considerable increase in
outdoor comfort in the summer season
(May-August), though the index remains below 70
in all but one of the cases (July of the 2080s).
Conditions appear likely to remain unchanged
throughout the remainder of the year, suggesting
a minimal impact on comfort levels throughout
that period ?In Boston, comfort levels appear
likely to decline (considerably by the 2050s) in
July and August, though increase somewhat in May
and October ?San Francisco appears likely to
experience an increase in comfort levels year
round, other than a possible decline in August in
the 2080s. Overall, the analysis suggests that
this city will become an even more attractive
destination for outdoor recreation activities
than it already is ?Miami appears likely to
experience a decline in comfort levels in all
months, though this decline is at a minimum in
winter (December and January). Overall, however,
the pattern of attractiveness (highest
November-March, lowest June-September) remains
unaltered. As suggested by Figures 1-3, the most
pleasant climatic conditions in the West, Midwest
and Northeast have historically occurred in the
summer months. In the South, spring and fall have
traditionally been the most pleasant seasons
(winter in the case of Florida), due to the
excessively hot summers often experienced. As a
result of climate change, these patterns are
likely to shift gradually to the north, however.
The summer season in the mid-Atlantic, in New
England, and eventually even on the Pacific
coast, will gradually become too hot for comfort.
By the 2050s Anchorage may, from a climate
perspective, be a more pleasant place to spend
the month of August than Boston.
Causes of Climate Change
Figure 2A TCI (July, 1961-1990, left) and 2B TCI
(July, 2040-2069, right)
The Earths climate system is a complex
interaction of a number of components including
the ocean, atmosphere, ice masses and
living organisms. Although the system is
ultimately driven by solar energy, changes to any
of the components, or to their interactions with
one another, can lead to a change in climatic
conditions. These changes can occur over a
variety of time scales, from short term
seasonal variations to long-term (geological time
scale) changes. Four key causes of climate change
are?Variations in solar output ?Milankovitch
cycles changes in the character of the Earths
orbit around the Sun, and in its rotation, affect
the way in which energy from the Sun
is distributed by season and by
latitude?Volcanic pollution explosive
volcanic eruptions can inject large quantities of
dust and sulphur dioxide high into the
atmosphere. This volcanic pollution results in a
substantial reduction in incoming solar
energy ?The greenhouse effect once solar
energy has reached  the Earth's surface, it is
absorbed, thereby warming the land and oceans,
and is then re-emitted. The amount of heat
re-emitted and eventually lost to space must
equal the amount gained from the Sun if the
temperature of the planet is to remain constant.
Greenhouse gases absorb the outgoing
terrestrial energy, trapping it near the Earth's
surface and causing increased warming. This is
the greenhouse effect. Without it the planet
would be too cold to support life as we know it.
Human society, however, through energy
generation, land use change and other processes,
has produced a substantial increase in the amount
of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, thereby
enhancing the natural greenhouse effect. It
is feared that this continuing change will lead
to a major shift in global climate, as described
Figure 3 TCI for Anchorage, Boston, San
Francisco and Miami, 1970s-2080s
The Tourism Climatic Index
The Tourism Climatic Index (TCI) was developed by
Mieczkowski (1985) as the first ever evaluation
of the suitability of the worlds climates for
the purposes of general recreation and tourism
activity. The index is based on monthly means for
seven climatic variables, namely (i) maximum
daily temperature (ii) mean daily temperature
(iii) minimum daily relative humidity (iv) daily
relative humidity (v) precipitation (vi) daily
duration of sunshine and, (vii) wind speed.
These seven variables were then weighted by
Mieczkowski according to their relative influence
on tourist and recreationalist well-being to form
the final index TCI 4CID CIA 2R 2S
W Where CID daytime comfort index (composed
of maximum daily temperature and minimum daily
relative humidity) CIA daily comfort index
(composed of mean daily temperature and daily
relative humidity) R precipitation S daily
sunshine and, W wind speed. Each variable
takes on an optimal rating of 5.0, and
Mieczkowski suggested the classification scheme
outlined below be used to distinguish the
suitability of a locations climate for
recreation and tourism based on its overall TCI
score Score Comfort level Score Comfort
level 90 100 Ideal 40 49 Marginal 80
89 Excellent 30 39 Unfavourable 70
79 Very good 20 29 Very unfavourable 60
69 Good 10 19 Extremely unfavourable 50
59 Acceptable Below 9 Impossible
The temporal and spatial shifts in optimal
climatic comfort levels for outdoor recreation
suggested by the analyses presented here have
significant implications for the planning,
provision and management of outdoor recreation
(OR) opportunities. To most effectively serve
their customers, it is vital that OR planners and
managers recognize the potential for such shifts,
and begin to incorporate them into their
long-term planning and development activities. A
proactive approach to climate change adaptation
will help minimize the cost of necessary
measures, as well as maximize the ability to
capitalize on positive changes in outdoor comfort
levels. Future research should focus on finer
scaled analyses both spatially and temporally
as well as on the implications of climate change
for specific OR sectors, e.g., skiing or golf.
IPCC (2001) Climate Change 2001 The Scientific
Basis. Contribution of Working Group I to the
Third Assessment Report of the
Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change,
Houghton, J.T., Ding, Y., Griggs, D.J., Noguer,
M., van der Linden, P.J., Dai, X., Maskell, K.,
Johnson C.A. (eds.), Cambridge University Press,
Cambridge, United Kingdom and New York, NY,
United States of America. Jones, P.D., New, M.,
Parker, D.E., Martin, S., Rigor, I.G. (1999)
Surface air temperature and its changes over
the past 150 years, Reviews of Geophysics, 37,
173-199. Jones, P.D., Moberg, A. (2003)
Hemispheric and large-scale surface air
temperature variations An extensive revision
and an update to 2001, Journal of Climate, 16,
206-223. Mieczkowski, Z. (1985) The tourism
climatic index A method of evaluating world
climates for tourism, Canadian Geographer,
29(3), 220-233.
The Authors Sarah Nicholls is an Assistant
Professor in the Departments of Community,
Agriculture, Recreation Resource Studies, and
Geography, at Michigan State University. Bas
Amelung is a Research Associate in the
International Centre for Integrative Studies at
the University of Maastricht, in the Netherlands.
David Viner is a Senior Research Associate in the
Climatic Research Unit (CRU) at the University of
East Anglia, UK. The work presented was completed
during visits to CRU by Nicholls
(January-February 2005, funded by an ESRC-SSRC
Visiting Collaborative Fellowship) and Amelung
(August 2003, funded by the Center for Integrated
Study of the Human Dimensions of Global Change ).
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