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Climate projections show human health impacts possible within 30 years
Date:2/19/2011

Wisconsin-Milwaukee School of Freshwater Sciences, found spring rains are expected to increase in the next 50 years and areas with dated sewer systems are more likely to overflow because the ground is frozen and rainwater can't be absorbed. As little as 1.7 inches of rain in 24 hours can cause an overflow in spring and the combination of increased temperatures -- changing snowfall to rainfall and increased precipitation -- can act synergistically to magnify the impact.

McLellan and colleagues showed that under worst case scenarios there could be an average 20 percent increase in volume of overflows, and they expect the overflows to last longer. In Milwaukee, infrastructure investments have reduced sewage overflows to an average of three times per year, but other cities around the Great Lakes still experience overflows up to 40 times per year.

"Hundreds of millions of dollars are spent on urban infrastructure, and these investments need to be directed to problems that have the largest impact on our water quality," said McLellan. "Our research can shed light on this dilemma for cities with aging sewer systems throughout the Great Lakes and even around the world."

"Understanding climate change on a local level and what it means to county beach managers or water quality safety officers has been a struggle," said Juli Trtanj, director of NOAA's Oceans and Human Health Initiative and co-author of the interagency report A Human Health Perspective on Climate Change. "These new studies and models enable managers to better cope and prepare for real and anticipated changes in their cities, and keep their citizens, seafood and economy safe."


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Contact: John Ewald
john.ewald@noaa.gov
240-429-6127
NOAA Headquarters
Source:Eurekalert

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