Climate Impacts

Climate change is a complex area, requiring many hours of study and learning.  The intent of this tab is to give you a few basic pieces of information and then point you to the experts in this field for more depth and details.

Climate Change Basics

Changes in the earth’s temperature, sea level and acidity, animal and plant diversity and extinction are among the many effects of climate change.  Climate change is happening due to increased greenhouse gasses in the earth’s atmosphere, resulting in warming of the planet. The buildup of greenhouse gasses act as a blanket over the earth. The main greenhouse gasses are carbon dioxide (CO2), methane (CH4), nitrous oxide (NO2) and F-gases (chlorofluorocarbons, hydrochlorofluorocarbons, hydrofluorocarbons, perfluorocarbons, and sulfur hexafluoride).

“Climate Change” and “Global Warming” phrases are often used interchangeably.  However, global warming is just one of the ways in which our climate is affected by rising concentrations of greenhouse gases.  Global warming refers to the recent rise in the average global temperature.

Overall Impacts of Climate Change

Because of the increase in the global average temperature, climate change impacts are many and varied affecting our environment, health and economy.  They include:

  • changing rainfalls, resulting in more floods, droughts, intense rains affecting water supplies,
  • increasing extreme weather events including severe heat waves and wildfires,
  • warming of and increased acidity in oceans,
  • melting glacier ice caps,
  • rising sea levels affecting coastal communities and ecosystems,
  • worsening air and water quality,
  • changing ecosystems including reduced animal and plant populations and increased extinction,
  • decreasing availability, safety and nutritional quality of food,
  • increasing health risks such as heat strokes, spread of disease, lung problems such as bronchitis, emphysema and asthma, and increased stress and mental health problems.

Impacts of Climate Change in Indiana

Temperatures are expected to increase by approximately 3℉ in this decade and by 5-6℉ by the 2050’s.  Summers will be extremely hot with up to 39 days above 95℉ by mid-century.  Frost-free days will increase from an average 175 days per year to the low 200’s. 

Precipitation will increase about 6-8% per year and will likely increase in the winter and spring months with less precipitation in the summer and fall months.  Rain will take the place of snow.  Snow events greater than 2 inches will happen about half as often by mid-century.

Climate change is also a suspected factor in extreme events, such as droughts, flooding and wildfires. 

Many areas will be affected by the changing climate including Hoosiers’ health, forest ecosystems, urban green spaces, agriculture, aquatic ecosystems, tourism & recreation, energy, water and infrastructure. 

Causes of Climate Change

Scientists overwhelming agree that climate change is the result of man-made causes.  Human activities have released large amounts of greenhouse gasses into the atmosphere since the Industrial Revolution (approximately 1760 for Britain and 1830 for United States).  Burning fossil fuels, such as coal and oil, is the primary contributor to climate change, more than any other human activity.

Less impactful causes include:

  • changes in the reflectivity of the earth’s surface from activities such as agriculture, road construction, concentration of urban areas and deforestation, and
  • emissions of small aerosol particles.


For more depth and details, visit the following resources:

Conversation with Gabriel Filippelli, Executive Director, Indiana University Environmental Resilience Institute, August 2023

Fact sheet compiled by Leslie Webb – Winter 2022

Indiana University Environmental Resilience Institute –
Purdue Climate Change Research Center –

U.S. Global Change Research Program –
(produces the National Climate Assessment)
National Academy of Sciences –
Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) –

Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change –

PEW Research Center –
Hoosier Environmental Council –
NOAA Billion-Dollar Disasters, Indiana Climate & Clean Energy Polls, and Scorching Hot Summers, 2022