As scientists and resource managers have learned more about the causes and consequences of climate change, the management response has focused on adaptation to the impacts on the waterways and associated ecosystems of the Lake Champlain Basin. By encouraging long-term policy and planning that accounts for these changes, we foster resilient communities and ecosystems that are able to absorb the impacts of intense weather events. Floodplains that are able to absorb pulses of high water and lessen impacts to water quality, fish and wildlife, and infrastructure. Best management practices that mitigate sedimentation and nutrient loading are also a critical element of adaptation to climate change.
In the ongoing debate about climate change, some people wonder what scientists mean by “global warming” when winter in the Lake Champlain Basin often still includes bitter low temperatures, blustery wind, and snow and ice. The atmospheric conditions at a particular point in time—for example, the temperature or precipitation observed during any given storm event—is weather. An average of temperatures and precipitation over several decades is climate—the major weather pattern over time. The term “climate change” refers to a long-term shift in weather patterns on a global scale.