Carolina vs Denver: Climate Edition

On Sunday, February 7, the Carolina Panthers and the Denver Broncos will hit the field at Levi’s Stadium to go head-to-head in the Super Bowl. While one of these teams will take home the big trophy, there’s no winner when it comes to the climate change impacts each state is experiencing. Colorado, the home state of the Denver Broncos, is experiencing increases in droughts and wildfires, and decreases in snowpack. North Carolina, the home state of the Carolina Panthers, is experiencing increases in sea level rise, extreme heat, and flooding.

Colorado

  • The average annual temperature in Colorado increased approximately 2°F between 1977 and 2006, and models predict they will rise by another 2.5 to 5°F by 2050.
  • The timing of snowmelt and peak runoff in Colorado’s river basins has shifted earlier in the spring by one to four weeks over the past 30 years.

Colorado and the rest of the Southwest region of the United States is prone to drought. In light of a changing climate, future droughts are expected to become more frequent, intense, and longer lasting. These drought conditions negatively impact water resources and increase the likelihood of insect and disease outbreaks and wildfires.

As temperatures continue to rise, scientists expect reduced winter and spring precipitation in the Southwest, and more precipitation falling as rain instead of snow in the winter. The reduction of snow in the winter negatively impacts drinking water, agriculture, and winter recreation.  

North Carolina

  • Sea level along the North Carolina coast has risen up to 1.51 feet in some locations over the past century.
  • The average annual temperature in North Carolina increased approximately 2°F over the past 50 years.

North Carolina and the rest of the Southeast region of the United States has seen increases in sea level rise over the past century. As the climate continues to change, the rise in sea level along the coast is expected to accelerate and negatively impact transportation, energy production, and water supply, and increase the risk of coastal and inland flooding.

Increased temperatures in the Southeast, as well as the frequency, intensity, and duration of extreme heat events, negatively affect public health, energy, and agriculture. For instance, a 2002 drought cost the North Carolina’s agricultural industry $398 million.

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