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Forest and Agricultural Vulnerabilities in the Northeast

Brown Swiss cows in Vermont. Photo by Marshall Webb, Shelbourne Farms

Under changing climate conditions, farmers and forest landowners in the Northeast face new challenges, but there are a variety of actions they can take to lessen the impact of—or even take advantage of—these climate trends.

The climate in the Northeast U.S. has been changing. Winters have been getting warmer and heavy rainstorms are becoming much more common. Models suggest that these changes will continue. Three recent studies focused on species or production systems that might be particularly vulnerable to changing conditions. They also include practical actions one can take to reduce the harmful aspects of some of these changes. Northern, boreal, and montane forests have the greatest assessed vulnerability as many of their dominant tree species are projected to decline under warmer conditions. Coastal forests have high vulnerability, as sea level rise along the Atlantic coast increases damage from inundation, greater coastal erosion, flooding, and saltwater intrusion. For farmers in the Northeast, an extended period of spring frost risk in perennial fruit crops is likely to result from warmer winter and early spring temperatures. Increased temperatures and more intense storms will likely increase nutrient losses and gaseous emissions from animal manure. However, there will be prospects for more double-cropping and new crops that come with warmer temperatures and a longer frost-free period.

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External Partners

  • Michigan Technical University
  • Cornell University
  • Pennsylvania State University
  • University of New Hampshire
  • University of Delaware
  • Iowa State University
  • University of Maryland
  • USDA Agricultural Research Service
  • USDA Farm Services Agency