Home » climate change impacts
The Montana University System’s Institute on Ecosystems’ Montana Climate Assessment is a statewide report that looks at climate trends and their impacts on Montana’s water, forests, and the agriculture industry.
The 2018 release of Volume II focuses on the human welfare, societal, and environmental elements of climate change and variability for 10 regions and 18 national topics, with particular attention paid to observed and projected risks, impacts, consideration of risk reduction, and implications under different mitigation pathways.
Ocean acidification has been linked to the disturbance of food webs and changing species distributions. Together with other biogeochemical changes, increasing ocean acidification may compromise the health of marine ecosystems as well as negatively impact many ocean goods and services and the communities that rely on them.
Arctic sea ice has likely reached its maximum extent for the year, at 14.88 million square kilometers (5.75 million square miles) on February 25. The 2022 maximum is the tenth lowest in the 44-year satellite record.
Billion-dollar disasters are happening across the country, and climate change is often linked. These weather and climate disasters are becoming more frequent and more costly. Costs can be reduced with climate adaptation measures, such as restoring coastal marshes, increasing the flood-preparedness of homes, and treating stressed vegetation in wildfire-prone areas. But according to the recent National Climate Assessment, climate change is still outpacing our planning. To minimize our risks, we must reduce our carbon emissions as quickly as possible.
In a warming climate, more precipitation will be expected to fall as rain rather than snow in most areas—reducing the extent and depth of snowpack. Changes in mountain snowpack can affect agriculture, winter recreation, and tourism in some areas, as well as plants and wildlife.
Key changes to ocean systems include acidification, rising sea levels, and strengthening storms. Impacts to ocean habitats are detailed in the discussion of coral bleaching and reef degradation in the species and habitats section.
Temperatures are rising. Climate change has already increased average temperatures enough to shift seasons — spring comes earlier and fall frosts arrive later. These shifts in seasons compel some species to migrate farther north or to higher elevations. Trends indicating more extreme temperatures have been observed in both air temperatures and water temperatures.
Trends indicating warming temperatures have been observed on land and in the ocean and surface waters. These changes drive other impacts as well and may negatively affect ecosystems and species.
Impacts of changing water regimes include altered precipitation, altered water levels, and greater flood risk. Together these changes pose management challenges and present conservation opportunities to the land trust community.