Is Your City One of the 25 Most At Risk from Climate Impacts?
One of the best ways to make the climate issue resonate for people is show how climate change impacts them personally. A new study by weather.com looked at the factors affecting America’s 100 largest cities, and identified the top 25 most at risk. Some, like Denver and Detroit, may see significant increases in heat. Others, like Pittsburgh and Buffalo, will likely face extreme precipitation, causing major snowstorms or potential floods. And cities like Miami and New Orleans are endangered by rising sea levels.
Fortunately, local governments are becoming much more aware of the challenges posed by climate change – and they aren’t waiting around for their state governments to take action. Portland, for example, is helping to reduce the urban heat island effect by adding roof gardens, while Minneapolis has implemented a plan to reduce energy consumption and incorporate clean energy. As climate scientist and MomentUs leader Katharine Hayhoe, who contributed to the report, explains in the accompanying Q&A, “What really matters to us as individuals is what’s happening in the places we live. If you care about health, economy, national security, business, energy, water resources, then you care about [climate change], too.”
By Michele Berger, Science Editor for weather.com
weather.com looked at six factors ranging from extreme precipitation to sea-level rise to determine which places across our country will get hit the hardest. Here, we present our top 25.
“There are so many different ways that people will feel the impact of climate change,” says David Easterling, Ph.D., of NOAA’s National Center for Environmental Information. Sea-level rise and flooding. Extreme heat and drought. Extreme precipitation events. Which events matter and how much depends on which part of the country you’re referencing, too.
In the face of growing evidence about the effects of climate change — recently bolstered by a study from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration showing there’s been no slowdown in global warming, despite the popular “hiatus” theory — the future landscape looks quite different from today. “The warmest day that we’d see in 20 to 30 years, the record temperature at that time would have no precedent,” explains Michael Mann, Ph.D., director of the Penn State Earth System Science Center. “New records would exceed old records and typical conditions [would] start to resemble what we today consider ‘extreme.’”
Katharine Hayhoe, Ph.D., a climate scientist based out of Texas Tech University, works with cities on their climate preparedness. She said many local governments are much more aware of and proactive about climate change today. “Ten years ago, it used to be a city wouldn’t really have seen anything happen unless it was a city in Alaska,” she said. “Now, they already have a list of ways they’re being impacted by changing climate. All of the impacts are tied to services or infrastructure.”
Image credit: AP Photo/Lynne Sladky