ADAPTING TO CLIMATE CHANGE
SOUTHEAST
The Southeast is projected to experience higher average temperatures, increased
precipitation, more frequent and intense storms, and droughts. These projected
changes pose challenges to communities as they protect water sources, sensitive
wetlands, and  public health. Climate impacts vary from a wet northern area to a
dry southwestern area. Many communities are building resilience to the risks
they face under current climatic conditions. This fact sheet provides examples of
communities that are going beyond resilience to anticipate and prepare for
future impacts.
  Observed and Projected Changes in the Southeast
            Intense storms have
                increased
          Observed Change in Very Heavy Precipitation
       Very hot days have
          increased
    The Southeast experienced a 27% increase
    in the amount of precipitation falling in
    very heavy events (the heaviest 1%) from
    1958 to 2012.
                                   &EPA
                   stales
              Environmental Protection
              Agency
                               Moving Beyond Resilience to Adaptation
                               Climate change adaptation goes
                               beyond resilience by taking actions to
                               address future risks. Adaptation refers
                               to how communities anticipate, plan,
                               and prepare for a changing climate.
    \verage Annual Temperature
            Increases

    Projected Temperature
Many parts of the Southeast experienced
an increase in the average number of days
with a maximum temperature greater than
95F from 1980 to 2000.
The Southeast is projected to experience an
increase in the average annual temperature
(F) for 2041 to 2070 compared to 1971 to
1999 under a high emissions scenario.
 Diversifying Water Sources to Reduce Climate Risk
 Higher temperatures due to climate change in the Southeast are likely to intensify the water cycle, causing some areas to be
 wetter and others, drier. Fresh water resources along the coasts also face risks from rising seas. Key vulnerabilities include:
    As sea levels rise due to climate change, saltwater intrudes into surface water and groundwater sources.
    Climate change will cause more frequent  and intense storms, causing increased flooding.
    Climate change will contribute to more severe droughts in some areas, prompting the need to consider alternate water
    sources.

 Adaptation in Action
 Tampa Bay Water provides drinking water for nearly two and a half million residents on the Gulf coast of Florida. Historically,
 the utility relied largely on groundwater to satisfy the nearly 250 million gallons of water required per day (mgd). The utility's
 operators recognized the increasing vulnerability of its groundwater source to saltwater intrusion and completed construction
 of a desalination plant in 2008. The utility now delivers blended water using groundwater, surface water, and desalinated
 water.
 However, Tampa  Bay Water faces numerous risks from climate change, including more frequent and intense storms as well as
 flooding and the threat of saltwater intrusion. Therefore, the utility operators decided to more systematically estimate its
 source water vulnerability to projected changes in precipitation levels and saltwater intrusion, and assess its ability to meet an
 anticipated increase in demand for water to 275 mgd by 2035. The analysis confirmed Tampa Bay Water's previous decision to
 diversify its water sources and indicated that  its upgraded system likely enables the utility to meet its anticipated future needs
 even in a changing climate.

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ADAPTING TO CLIMATE CHANGE
SOUTHEAST
Protecting Vulnerable Wetlands
Salt marshes are important coastal ecosystems made up primarily of grasses, helping to protect shorelines from storms and
providing habitat for a diverse range of wildlife, from birds to mammals, shell- and fin-fishes and mollusks. In a salt marsh, there
is a delicate balance between salinity, dissolved oxygen, turbidity, bottom composition, and temperature. Salt marshes also
build up coastal elevations by trapping sediment during floods, and produce new soil from roots and decaying organic matter.
These areas are being reshaped by more rapid sea level rise and more frequent and intense storms. Key vulnerabilities include:
   Increased rates of sea level rise can disrupt salt marsh migration.
   More intense hurricanes and storms can damage established salt marshes.
   Increased shoreline development can block the growth of salt marshes by interfering with the deposition of silt, which
   would otherwise help natural marsh restoration and, hence, help reduce flooding.

Adaptation in Action

The Charlotte Harbor National Estuary Program and Southwest Florida Regional Planning Commission, supported by an EPA
assistance grant, worked together to assess the historic and current range of salt marshes along the Gulf of Mexico coastline,
and identify their vulnerability to future climate change. The results were published in a study, The Climate Change Vulnerability
Assessment and Adaptation Opportunities for Salt Marsh Types in Southwest Florida. This study determined that the current
pace of sea level rise appears to allow some marshes to migrate inland, while in other locations salt marshes are drowning due
to barriers. The study further mapped these areas to better determine the barriers to movement and understand where salt
marshes are able to move as they adapt to higher sea levels.

Protecting People During Heat Waves

Climate change leads to higher average temperatures and longer, more severe, and more frequent heat waves. The warming
climate will increase already higher temperatures in urban areas. The rate of temperature-related deaths by 2100 will be higher
in the Southeast than any other region of the United States. Impacts on human health include:
   Premature deaths for elderly people with chronic obstructive pulmonary disorders or other complex respiratory conditions
    are likely to increase.
   Hospital admissions and emergency room visits are expected to increase for people with pre-existing respiratory conditions.
  Children, especially those in underserved communities, are expected to miss more days of school due to respiratory
    illnesses.

Adaptation in Action

Cooling strategies to reduce heat islands can help communities adapt. Louisville, KY, is the fastest growing urban heat island in
America due to a lack of tree cover and the prevalence of dark, dense  surfaces such as asphalt, concrete, brick, and metal. To
reduce future climate risks, Louisville is performing a surface materials inventory so that city managers can take action where
heat relief is most needed. Heat-reducing solutions include strategic tree planting, using cooler roof technologies (green, white,
and reflective roofs) and adding more porous sidewalks and other green infrastructure. Georgia was the first state to add cool
roofs to its energy code, allowing a reduced roof insulation level if a cool roof with a 75 percent minimum solar reflectance and
75 percent minimum thermal emittance is installed. Florida also gives  cool roofs credit in its building energy code. Buildings
using a roof with 70 percent minimum solar reflectance and 75 percent minimum thermal emittance are eligible to reduce the
amount of insulation needed to meet building efficiency standards, as long as a radiant barrier is not also installed in the roof
area.
For a comprehensive view of projected climate changes in your region, consult:
                                                                      .sessment
                       r1 rinnfn M J litffStntSTm. fJi 1 w
  JUNE 2016
  OFFICE OF POLICY
  EPA-230-F-16-014

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