The new National Climate Assessment released Tuesday didn’t rank cities by which would be hit hardest, but here’s a look at some communities that could be hard-hit by one aspect of climate change or another.
Heavy precipitation, flooding — Burlington, Vt.; Hartford, Conn.; and Providence, R.I.
Quick outbursts of rain and snow, or “extreme precipitation,” have increased by more than 70% in the past six decades in the northeastern U.S., according to the National Climate Assessment. This is the highest percentage increase of any location in the country.
Ferocious rainmakers like 2011’s Hurricane Irene — one of the top weather disasters in Vermont’s history — have become the signature of climate change in New England and the Northeast, afflicting older cities and towns built at a time of more modest rainfall.
The heavy rain and resulting floods are undermining aging bridges, eroding roads and overwhelming drainage systems. The frequency of heavy downpours is projected to continue to increase as the century progresses.
Heat waves — Chicago; Dallas; St. Louis; and Kansas City
The rate of warming in the Midwest has markedly accelerated over the past few decades, according to the NCA. Between 1900 and 2010, the average Midwest air temperature increased by more than 1.5 degrees.
The frequency of major heat waves in the Midwest has also increased over the past six decades. For the entire nation, death increases 4% during heat waves compared with non-heat-wave days.
Heat stress is projected to increase as a result of both increased summer temperatures and humidity, the assessment predicts. One study projected an increase of between 166 and 2,217 extra deaths per year from heat-wave-related mortality in Chicago alone by later this century.
Allergies — Louisville; Atlanta; Memphis; Richmond, Va.; and Birmingham, Ala.
Climate change, resulting in more frost-free days and warmer seasonal air temperatures, can contribute to shifts in flowering time and pollen initiation from allergenic plant species, and increased carbon dioxide by itself can elevate production of plant-based allergens.
Wildfires — Denver; Albuquerque; and Phoenix
Increased warming, drought and insect outbreaks — all caused by or linked to climate change — have increased wildfires and impacts to people and ecosystems across the rising populations of the Southwest, the assessment reports. Bark beetle infestations, spreading because of warmer winters and longer, warmer summers, are leaving acres of tinder-dry dead forest.
Nationally, climate change is being blamed for lengthening the nation’s wildfire season, with scientists predicting larger and more frequent…