Oftentimes, climate change seems to be such a huge, looming and faraway issue that it is difficult for us to imagine how we personally are affected. This unfortunately makes it less apparent that changes need to be made, now! Not all of us can put aside our habits if we aren’t being reminded daily, in a real way, of the issues associated with our planet. 

Here in WNY, we don’t face the direct threat of rising sea levels, extreme heat, or disastrous forest fires.  We are snuggled near one of the greatest sources of freshwater and have green space galore. What will WNY look like in the coming years? What changes are already in the works? What specific actions can we be taking to preserve our home?

What are the experts saying?

  1. According to one analysis of data from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), predicted by 2050, Buffalo's average temperature will be similar to that in present-day Louisville, Ky., which is some 500 miles to our southwest. 

  2. Elizabeth Thomas, PhD, an assistant professor of geology at UB, studies how climate change will affect precipitation, with a particular focus on lake effect snow. “Overall warming will lead to less ice cover”, Dr. Thomas said. “But you could see more lake effect snow, because of quick bursts of bitter cold air that could pass over the unfrozen lake. And you can blame the intense warming that's happening near the North Pole.The Arctic is warming so much that the temperature gradient between low and high latitudes is weakening, and that causes the jet stream, which sort of isolates really cold, Arctic air from us here in Buffalo ... that jet stream is weaker, and it wobbles and allows really cold, Arctic air to make its way down here in Buffalo," she explained.

  3. Trevor Krabbenhoft, PhD is also studying climate change. He's an assistant professor of biology at UB. His research focus is on aquatic life. "The changes are here already," he said. "We've seen shifts in timing, for example, of reproduction. So fish that spawn in the spring are now spawning earlier and earlier. The growth rates -- how fast fish are growing -- is changing. The food sources (are changing), and so there have already been a lot of impacts of climate change.

  4. Dr. Krabbenhoft described aquatic life in the Great Lakes as canaries in the coal mine, because they can give indications of other changes on the way. He pointed out the importance of the Great Lakes, considering the basin supplies 84% of the surface fresh water for all of North America.

For More Info: Buffalo State Experts: Mapping Climate Change in Western New York

Video: Western New York climate change

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How can you get involved?

Community Action on Climate Change

GrowWNYGet Involved

NY Renews

Sierra Club Niagara Group | Sierra Club Group of Western New York

How to Contact Your Elected Officials


How will Climate Change Affect WNY?