New Hampshire, the Granite State, rests on land native to the Abenaki and Pennacock tribes, displaced during colonization beginning in the 1600s. New Hampshire became the first of the colonies to create a constitution and declare independence from Britain. Home to just 1.4 million people, New Hampshire covers almost 9 thousand square miles.
Summers in New Hampshire are becoming hotter and muggier and extreme heat days are expected to quadruple by 2050 — from 10 to more than 40 days per year. One consequence of hotter temperatures is the increase in the severity of storms. Since 1958, precipitation in New Hampshire from heavy storms has increased by 70%. Average precipitation in New Hampshire is likely to continue increasing in winter and spring but remain relatively consistent through summer and fall. As snow melts earlier and water evaporates more quickly, soil will be left drier by summer and fall. New Hampshire ranks fourth nationally in terms of state ski revenue per capita, but that industry is threatened as winters warm. Across the country, ski areas are facing a decline in the length of the season by as much as 50% by 2050.
Officially, New Hampshire has a little more than 18 miles of Atlantic coastline, a small strip between Massachusetts’s and Maine’s more well-known coasts. However, the Department of Environmental Services recognizes 235 miles, which includes estuarian shoreline. Estuaries feed into wetlands, which are an important natural defense against coastal flooding. Humans have been filling wetlands for development since the 1800s, and as climate change promises sea level rise, especially along the Atlantic where the coastline is sinking, these New Hampshire residents are becoming increasingly vulnerable. 5,000 people live at risk of coastal flooding in New Hampshire today and that number is expected to increase to 7,000 by 2050.
New Hampshire’s rugged and varied terrain offers plentiful natural resources to the state, including some of the highest winds ever recorded, and New Hampshire was the site of the nation’s first attempt at a commercial wind farm. However, renewable resources supply only about 1/6 of the state’s electrical generation and biomass and hydroelectric facilities provide most of that with nuclear energy occuping the largest share of New Hampshire’s energy generation. In 2019, 60% of the state’s generation came from one nuclear power plant. Natural gas supplies about 20%. Two coal-fired electricity generating stations are still in use in New Hampshire.
New Hampshire’s leadership has taken decisive steps towards confronting challenges presented by climate change. The state’s Climate Action Plan was finalized in 2009, which provided wide-ranging recommendations including a call for the creation of a separate adaptation plan and the initiation of an interdisciplinary Energy and Climate Collaborative. A number of legislative efforts have continued to build on this plan, including a 2016 mandate for the Department of Environmental Services to update and summarize coastal flooding trends. However, an overarching and comprehensive planning piece of legislation has yet to be passed, and neither has legislation targeting emissions reduction. Such a bill got its first hearing at the beginning of 2020.