This article caught my eye last weekend. It’s a quick read, but the implications – for WV as a whole and rural residents who are agriculturally dependent, but also for traffic that must transit the state – are dire.
Having just driven back and forth through 4 hours of WV, I can attest to the number of bridges, and I was surprised how many of my favorite passes in Colorado were still closed because of avalanche/road damage from all the precipitation the past 18 months. If even a few bridges are knocked out because of the combined effects of more moisture and drier, less-absorbent soils, so much commerce will grind to a halt! I know in our talks of Climate Change, rarely is attention given to infrastructure and what happens once it fails. Some places, like WV, are so dependent on bridges that a string of collapses would put a damper on a huge area’s economic activity, not to mention the permanent population shifts as the land no longer supports the people that cling to it.
If nothing is done to mitigate temperature rise, the study says, Appalachia is likely to become not only hotter, but wetter and drier. How can it be both? Zegre, an associate professor of forest hydrology in the Davis College of Agriculture, Natural Resources and Design and his team, just completed a study of the entire 7 state region. Here’s how they say it would happen: “As the atmosphere warms, evaporation increases so water that is in the trees, in the soil, in our crops, in wetlands lakes and rivers, evaporates more quickly.” And with all that water held in the atmosphere, when it rains it pours. “In the steep topography of the Appalachian region, what this translates to, is landslides and floods.”
Article (and audio, for those interested): Appalachia to become hotter, wetter, drier