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The Impact of Global Warming on Texas

The Impact of Global Warming on Texas

Jurgen Schmandt
Gerald R. North
Judith Clarkson
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  • Book Info
    The Impact of Global Warming on Texas
    Book Description:

    WhenThe Impact of Global Warming on Texaswas first published in 1995, it discussed climate change as a likely future phenomenon, predicted by scientific studies. This entirely rewritten second edition presents evidence that early climate change impacts can now be observed and identifies the threats climate change will pose to Texas through the year 2050. It also offers the hopeful message that corrective action, if taken now, can avert unmanageable consequences.

    The book begins with a discussion of climate science and modeling and the information that can be derived from these sources for Texas. The authors follow this with an analysis of actual climate trends in the various Texas climate regions, including a predicted rise in temperatures of 5.4 degrees F (plus or minus 1.8 F) by the end of the century. This could lead to less rainfall and higher evaporation, especially in regions that are already dry. Other important effects include possible changes in El Niño (climate variability) patterns and hurricane behaviors. Taking into account projected population growth, subsequent chapters explore likely trends with respect to water availability, coastal impacts, and biodiversity.

    The authors then look at the issues from a policy perspective, focusing on Texas's importance to the national economy as an energy producer, particularly of oil and gas. They recommend that Texas develop its own climate change policy to serve the goals of reducing greenhouse gas emissions, increasing energy independence, ensuring regional security, and improving management of water, air, land, and wildlife.

    eISBN: 978-0-292-73324-4
    Subjects: Environmental Science, Physics

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Foreword
    (pp. vii-x)
    Neal Lane

    Avoiding dangerous climate change will be one of the defining challenges for humanity in the twenty-first century. The Fourth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), published in 2007, documents compelling evidence that the climate is changing; human activities are the primary cause, and the consequences are serious. If we fail to act urgently and effectively to mitigate the causes and adapt to inevitable climate change, catastrophe looms for future generations of people, and the evolution of natural systems that support human society will change dramatically.

    Climate experts agree that policymakers cannot wait until all the scientific...

  4. Introduction
    (pp. 1-13)
    Bill Dawson

    This book is being published at a moment of singular change and choice for Texans. As the authors make clear, the impact of global warming on the state is expected to take two basic and interrelated forms. One involves the effects of warming-caused climate change itself. The second involves the effects of any actions taken to reduce that warming.

    First, geography means Texas will experience a challenging assortment of the climate changes that scientists have concluded are already spinning off from a man-made atmospheric warming trend. Chapter 10, for instance, includes a compelling, though hardly comprehensive, list of some of...

  5. CHAPTER 1 Climate Science and Climate Change
    (pp. 14-38)
    Gerald R. North

    This is the second edition of a book assembled by the same editors in 1995. The first edition was one of the earliest attempts at a regional assessment of the impact of climate change; in our case, the application was to the Texas region. There has been significant progress in climate research since then, and the present publication is our response to the many requests to revise and update the book. Our aim then and now is to provide an objective assessment of the impacts of climate change on the Texas region. Our target audience is the well-educated layman, especially...

  6. CHAPTER 2 The Changing Climate of Texas
    (pp. 39-68)
    John W. Nielsen-Gammon

    Texas is the second-largest state in the United States, with a total land area of 261,914 square miles. Its size and geographical location combine to give it a diverse climate, with a wide variety of local and regional climatic influences. Before discussing the historical record of past climate change in Texas and possible future changes as a result of global warming and other factors, this chapter will give an overview of Texas climate and how the climate is determined by topographic and other characteristics.

    The Texas climate is strongly influenced by three large geographical features. The first is the Rocky...

  7. CHAPTER 3 Water Resources and Water Supply
    (pp. 69-95)
    George H. Ward

    Of all the elements of the Texas economy, society, and environment considered in this book, water is most closely coupled with climate. It is also the quintessential limiting factor for human development of the state. Simply put, “the dominant feature of Texas is water, or rather, its scarcity” (Fehrenbach 1983). The present chapter focuses on availability of fresh water, that is, water with sufficiently low dissolved solids that it can be used for human and animal consumption, for the various agricultural and industrial enterprises, and for the wide suite of biological processes that require water of this quality. Specifically, this...

  8. CHAPTER 4 Coastal Impacts
    (pp. 96-123)
    Paul A. Montagna, Jorge Brenner, James Gibeaut and Sally Morehead

    The Texas coast is likely to experience severe climate change impacts because of a synergy between the regional climate regime and the coastal geology. Lying between about 26 and 30 degrees N latitude, the Texas coast is already in a relatively warm climate zone and subject to very high rates of evaporation (Larkin and Bomar 1983). Thus, potential changes in rainfall or temperature will have great impacts on the Texas coastal hydrocycle. The Texas coastal plain is relatively flat and low-lying, and the coast also has one of the highest rates of subsidence in the world (Anderson 2007). Thus, changes...

  9. CHAPTER 5 Biodiversity
    (pp. 124-156)
    Jane M. Packard, Wendy Gordon and Judith Clarkson

    The concept of biodiversity refers to (1) the number of types of natural ecological regions (ecoregions), (2) the number of native species within each ecoregion, and (3) the genetic variation within species (Janetos et al. 2008; Siikamaki 2008). For example, within the United States, vertebrate species richness naturally tends to be highest in southern areas and decreases with seasonally harsh winters in the north. Large states with boundaries that encompass a diverse array of ecosystems tend to contain a greater number of species than small homogeneous states. For this reason, Texas is second only to California in number of total...

  10. CHAPTER 6 Agriculture
    (pp. 157-171)
    Bruce A. McCarl

    Productivity and income in agriculture are heavily influenced by climatic conditions. Changes in temperature, precipitation, extreme events, water flows, and atmospheric content have a mixture of positive and negative implications for plant growth, livestock performance, and water supply, as well as for soil characteristics, pests, and diseases. Thus, this industry is likely to face changing conditions and may be at risk given the possible incidence of global climate change. This chapter examines the vulnerability of agriculture in Texas to global climate change.

    Estimation of the effects of climatic change on agriculture is difficult. Basically, there are three methods that could...

  11. CHAPTER 7 Urban Areas
    (pp. 172-195)
    David Hitchcock

    Texas cities and the people who live there are vulnerable to the effects of global climate change because of the heavy concentration of population, infrastructure, and economic activities. The concentration of human, community, and capital resources also means that cities are where the potential to adapt is the strongest, and where system changes (such as infrastructure redevelopment) require more vision. This chapter describes the vulnerabilities of major Texas cities to climate change impacts and the variations in those impacts from city to city due to their location within the state and subregional climate conditions.Vulnerableis used here to indicate...

  12. CHAPTER 8 Greenhouse Gas Emissions
    (pp. 196-220)
    Judith Clarkson

    As outlined in Chapter 1, the warming of the earth is directly related to the atmospheric concentration of greenhouse gases, notably carbon dioxide (CO₂). Since preindustrial times, greenhouse gas emissions have grown significantly, with an increase of 70 percent between 1970 and 2004. Emissions of the various gases have increased at different rates, with CO₂ emissions growing about 80 percent between 1970 and 2004 and representing 77 percent of total greenhouse gas emissions in 2004. This has resulted in an increase in atmospheric CO₂ from a preindustrial value of about 280 parts per million (ppm) to 379 ppm in 2005....

  13. CHAPTER 9 Economy
    (pp. 221-256)
    Jared Hazleton

    Earlier chapters have shown that elevated levels of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere and the resulting impacts on the earth’s climate could have significant environmental impacts. This chapter focuses on the economic impacts of climate change. It begins by reviewing the latest Texas demographic and economic trends and forecasts, followed by a discussion of the likely economic impacts on the state of projected climate change. The concluding sections discuss the economics of climate change, the types of public policy that can be used to address it, and the economic impact on the United States and Texas of national climate change...

  14. CHAPTER 10 Policy
    (pp. 257-301)
    Jurgen Schmandt

    The preceding chapters document how climate change and climate variability will impact Texas: temperatures will rise, heat waves will occur more frequently, it will be drier west of the Interstate 35 corridor, severe weather will become more frequent, in-stream flows will fall, biodiversity will decline, and the sea level will rise. The exact timing of these changes and the speed at which they will occur remain uncertain. It is also unknown whether some of the predicted changes will occur gradually or suddenly after a tipping point has been reached.

    These findings echo what we presented in the first edition of...

  15. Contributors
    (pp. 302-303)
  16. Index
    (pp. 304-318)