Delaware is vulnerable to increasing temperatures, variable rain patterns, rising sea level, ecosystem loss and saltwater intrusion
Delaware’s climate has already warmed two degrees Fahrenheit in the last century. Increasing variability in precipitation will likely cause more floods and droughts. Rising sea levels threaten the stability of housing and infrastructure projects, as well as increasing the likelihood for flooding which can harm ecosystems, disrupt farming and pose an increasing risk to human health.
- Increasing temperatures: Extreme heat will increase in the Northeast region. Currently a temperate region in the summer, the region can expect to see an increase of “extremely hot” days. On average, there are only 2.6 days a year over 95 degrees Fahrenheit now, but that number could increase to by 5-16 additional days by midcentury and jump to 15-57 additional days by the end of the century. Increasingly hot summers will have negative impacts on health, mortality, and labor productivity.
- Rain variability: Annual precipitation in Delaware has increased a few percent in the last century, but precipitation from extremely heavy storms has increased in the eastern US by more than 25 percent since 1958. Increasing variability in precipitation will likely cause more flooding in the winter and spring, and more drought in the summer and fall.
- Rising sea level: Sea levels are rising more in Delaware than in many coastal regions because the land is also sinking. If warming trends continue, Delaware could experience 16 inches to four feet of sea level rise in the next century. Rising sea levels are eroding beaches, mixing salt water with wetlands, rivers upstream. Saltwater is also likely to continue intruding into aquifers near the coast and destroying soil in low-lying areas, as well as threatening homes and other infrastructure.
- Adaptation: Under Governor Jack Markell, Delaware established the Governor’s Committee on Climate and Resiliency which oversees the development of agency-specific and actionable recommendations for improving Delaware’s preparedness and resilience to climate impacts.
Delaware residents support clean energy and climate regulations
- According to the Yale Map Project on Climate Change Communication 71% of Delaware residents recognize that global warming is happening. The study finds that 76% of residents support regulating carbon dioxide as a pollutant and 83% support funding research into renewable energy sources.
Delaware is developing solar
- Delaware ranks 30th in the country in installed solar capacity with 97 MW installed, enough to power 11,000 homes. There are currently 52 solar companies working throughout the value chain in the state, employing 363 people.
- Delaware’s net metering law allows third-party solar financing and shared solar, supporting the distributed solar market.
- Delaware ranks 40th in the US for installed wind capacity, with 2 MW installed.
- In 2015, Delaware generated 85% of its electricity from natural gas and 8% from coal.
- Delaware established it Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS) in 2005 and raised the goal in 2010 requiring utilities to supply 25% of their electricity sales from renewable sources by 2025.