Climate Change Impacts
Pennsylvanians will be faced with worsened air quality, increased damage from flooding, agricultural losses, and expansion of vector-borne diseases like Lyme Disease due to climate change.
Section 3 of the Pennsylvania Climate Change Act (Act 70 of 2008) requires DEP to update and publish a report of the potential impact of climate change in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania every three years. This report provides:
- scientific predictions regarding changes in temperature and precipitation in Pennsylvania;
- potential impact of climate change on human health, the economy, and other sectors; and
- economic opportunities created by potential need for alternative sources of energy and climate-related technologies.
2021 Climate Change Impacts Assessment
As with previous Impacts Assessments, the 2021 Climate Change Impacts Assessment projects that every county will continue to get warmer and wetter, with average annual rainfall increasing 8 percent, particularly in winter and spring, while average annual temperature rises approximately 5.9° F by mid-century from the baseline period (1971-2000). In addition to updating climate projections for the Commonwealth, the 2021 Climate Impacts Assessment takes a risk-based approach to analyzing the consequences of climate hazards across different sectors. This approach allows us to prioritize climate adaptation actions to the sectors facing the most severe consequences of climate change.
This assessment identified the top priorities below for adaptation action at the state level:
- Reduce extreme heat risks to human health, particularly for vulnerable populations
- Support the agriculture, recreation, and tourism sectors, as well as forests, ecosystems, and wildlife in the transition to a warmer climate
- Reduce flood risks to infrastructure and communities
- Help low-income households cope with an increased energy burden
- Enhance tropical storm and landslide risk mitigation
Climate Change Impacts on Pennsylvanians' Health
The 2021 Climate Impacts Assessment takes a particular look at the impacts of climate change on human health.
Health impacts related to increased temperatures include increased prevalence of:
- heat-related illnesses or deaths
- mosquito and tick-borne illness
- violence and crimes
- anxiety and mood disorders
Health impacts related to flooding and severe cyclones can also have severe health impacts such as:
- disrupting critical services
- making driving conditions more hazardous
- exposure to contaminated floodwater
- decreased indoor air quality due to mold growth
- mental health impacts
Climate Change Impacts on Equity and Environmental Justice
Not all Pennsylvanians will be impacted by climate change equally, and many factors can increase people's vulnerability to hazards such as:
- race or ethnicity
- food insecurity
- diminished mobility (e.g., access to vehicles/public transportation)
- outdoor employment
- and proximity to toxic sites or hazardous facilities.
Prior Impacts Assessments