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Climate Change Impacts

Increased Risk of Drought, Fire, and Floods

Climate change is intensifying the circulation of water on, above and below the surface of the Earth — causing drought and floods to be more frequent, severe and widespread.

Higher temperatures increase the amount of moisture that evaporates from land and water, leading to drought in many areas. Lands affected by drought are more vulnerable to flooding once rain falls.

As temperatures rise globally, droughts will become more frequent and more severe, with potentially devastating consequences for agriculture, water supply and human health. This phenomenon has already been observed in some parts of Asia and Africa, where droughts have become longer and more intense.

Hot temperatures and dry conditions also increase the likelihood of forest fires. In the conifer forests of the western United States, earlier snowmelts, longer summers and an increase in spring and summer temperatures have increased fire frequency by 400 percent and have increased the amount of land burned by 650 percent since 1970.

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