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Local News

May 7, 2014

Local experts: Panel's findings don't surprise

Several area people familiar with the issue said Tuesday that repeated local flooding is an indication that the panel’s report on climate change is correct.

Sidney High School science teacher Richard Townsend, who teaches a college-level meteorology class, said that climate change has been impacted by human activity. All he has to do is look at the repeated flooding of the last 20 years.

“It used to be a rare event,” Townsend said.

Townsend said it is clear from experts he has heard from that climate change is responsible for warming temperatures that have created more fluctuations, including wetter seasons.

“Everyone is agreeing that the result is more extreme weather,” he said. “It’s a real thing.”

While it may be impacted by natural fluctuations, “we have had an impact” and need to take action, including reducing CO2 emissions.

Samantha Borisoff, a climatologist with the Northeast Regional Climate Center said that along with the increase in temperatures, there has been an increase in “extreme precipitation events.”

There could be an increase in droughts in some areas as well, Borisoff said. As the air warms up, it increases the evaporation from the soil, she said, and when there is rain, it will be heavier in some areas.

One of the things that should be done to change things is curbing emissions of greenhouse gases, because “what we are doing now will continue to impact climate for a long time.”

People can be more aware of energy use and “make smarter choices,” she said.

Frank Ward retired as an earth science teacher from Walton High School after 26 years. He has been a weather observer for the National Weather Service for 18 years. Climate change has been here for a number of years, he said.

“Now we have to learn how to live with it,” Ward said.

While snowfall may be less, “we are getting more precipitation in the form of rain. We no longer get lots of gentle rain. Instead, we get huge downpours or we get nothing.”

Walton used to flood every 40 years until the 1970s, he said. Now, the village floods at least once each decade, he said.

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