EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

November 12, 2013

Climate study sees N.H. getting hotter and wetter

By John Toole

---- — A new look at New Hampshire’s climate anticipates warmer temperatures and more precipitation.

It’s a truly long-range forecast.

The Southern New Hampshire Climate Assessment looks at temperatures and precipitation later this century.

“Potential changes in summer temperatures represent one area of particular concern,” the Southern New Hampshire Planning Commission said in highlighting the new study. “At the present time, only seven summer days per year on average reach temperatures above 90 degrees Fahrenheit.”

By 2100, New Hampshire is expected to see 20 to 54 days of 90-degree temperatures, the commission said.

University of New Hampshire associate professor Cameron Wake is scheduled to outline the findings Nov. 25 in Manchester.

Some key findings announced by the commission include:

Annual temperatures may increase 3 to 5 degrees by 2040-2069.

Annual temperatures may increase 4 to 8 degrees by 2070-2099.

Summer temperatures may increase 4 to 10 degrees by 2070-2099.

Annual precipitation may increase 17 to 20 percent by 2070-2099.

“These temperature changes correspond to human health and environmental impacts, with increases in summer droughts, asthma and respiratory illnesses,” the commission said.

Extra precipitation could mean more flooding. Warmer temperatures could mean less snow cover.

It’s cause for concern among farmers.

“We definitely can’t afford this kind of swing,” said Mike Peters of Peters’ Farm in Salem.

Signs of a changing climate are already out there.

“Something is going on, I’m not sure what,” Peters said. “There are a lot of extremes. Right now, we’re in a drought. We have not had any rain of significance, just a little in October and very little in September.”

Mike Cross, farm manager for Mack’s Apples in Londonderry, said the climate outlook could mean both good and bad news.

“It would let us grow crops we can’t now,” Cross said.

Twenty years ago, Mack’s didn’t bother with peaches, deemed a risky crop in northern New England.

“Now, we don’t have a problem,” he said.

What happens with crops could affect consumers, Cross said.

“Anything that hurts the farmer is going to hurt the consumer in the long run,” he said.

Cross recently attended a University of New Hampshire Cooperative Extension forum where growers heard the region will see more large rain storms.

That’s already affecting farms and orchards.

“We’ve had a few of 3, 4 or 5 inches,” he said. “That used to be uncommon.”