finding 16.1 : heat-and-flooding-growing-challenge

Heat waves, coastal flooding, and river flooding will pose a growing challenge to the region’s environmental, social, and economic systems. This will increase the vulnerability of the region’s residents, especially its most disadvantaged populations.



This finding is from chapter 16 of Climate Change Impacts in the United States: The Third National Climate Assessment.

Process for developing key messages: Results of the Northeast Regional Climate assessment workshop that was held on November 17-18, 2011, at Columbia University, with approximately 60 attendees, were critically important in our assessment. The workshop was the beginning of the process that led to the foundational Technical Input Report (TIR).5f2be58e-4fcf-439c-bba8-1ed29be711fe That 313-page report consisted of seven chapters by 13 lead authors and more than 60 authors in total. Public and private citizens or institutions who service and anticipate a role in maintaining support for vulnerable populations in Northeast cities and communities indicated that they are making plans to judge the demand for adaptation services. These stakeholder interactions were surveyed and engaged in the preparation of this chapter. We are confident that the TIR authors made a vigorous attempt to engage various agencies at the state level and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) that have broader perspectives. The author team engaged in multiple technical discussions via teleconferences, which included careful review of the foundational TIR5f2be58e-4fcf-439c-bba8-1ed29be711fe and approximately 50 additional technical inputs provided by the public, as well as the other published literature and professional judgment. Discussions were followed by expert deliberation of draft key messages by the authors and targeted consultation with additional experts by the lead author of each key message.

Description of evidence base: The key message and supporting text summarizes extensive evidence documented in the Northeast Technical Input Report.5f2be58e-4fcf-439c-bba8-1ed29be711fe Nearly 50 Technical Input reports, on a wide range of topics, were also received and reviewed as part of the Federal Register Notice solicitation for public input. Numerous peer-reviewed publications (including many that are not cited) describe increasing hazards associated with sea level rise and storm surge, heat waves, and intense precipitation and river flooding for the Northeast. For sea level rise (SLR), the authors relied on the NCA SLR scenariod8089822-678e-4834-a1ec-0dca1da35314 and research by the authors on the topic (for example, Horton et al. 2010037b0db1-43d9-41dc-af2e-f824b32abf27). Recent work6de60d34-38f5-425e-ab86-9ba459c2fafe summarizes the literature on heat islands and extreme events. For a recent study on climate in the Northeast,2acefcdc-827f-4c52-a4d8-56fc73f8ed35 the authors worked closely with the region’s state climatologists on both the climatology and projections. The authors also considered many recent peer-reviewed publications4167ecf8-f307-4cb9-ac96-8f0a22b5b72a dd072932-2da1-4e6c-b18a-6f7649969625 1ad525a6-0534-429f-a984-8cc7ee248758 618edb7b-6c2f-4bee-899f-d52bb44743a0 04f852ec-7b1e-4fd0-a517-283b25468694 13baa2f8-b25e-4372-91c8-3c76e0c8dc07 fb974b33-39d4-4430-88ea-1355120db253 that describe how human vulnerabilities to climate hazards in the region can be increased by socioeconomic and other factors. Evaluating coupled multi-system vulnerabilities is an emerging field; as a result, additional sources including white papers2acefcdc-827f-4c52-a4d8-56fc73f8ed35 have informed this key message as well. To capture key issues, concerns, and opportunities in the region, various regional assessments were also consulted, such as PlaNYC (http://www.nyc.gov/html/planyc2030) and Boston’s Climate Plan (http://www.cityofboston.gov/Images_Documents/A%20Climate%20of%20Progress%20-%20CAP%20Update%202011_tcm3-25020.pdf).

New information and remaining uncertainties: Important new evidence (cited above) confirmed many of the findings from a prior Northeast assessmente251f590-177e-4ba6-8ed1-6f68b5e54c8a (see http://nca2009.globalchange.gov/northeast). The evidence included results from improved models and updated observational data (for example, Liu et al. 2012; Parris et al. 2012; Sallenger et al. 2012480ff362-8434-4861-a8bb-2dc6615bdcdc 736c24a5-149a-4d5b-88c5-e729af8c3b0c d8089822-678e-4834-a1ec-0dca1da35314). The current assessment included insights from stakeholders collected in a series of distributed engagement meetings that confirm its relevance and significance for local decision-makers; examples include a Northeast Listening Session in West Virginia, a kickoff meeting in New York City, and New York City Panel on Climate Change meetings. There is wide diversity of impacts across the region driven by both exposure and sensitivity that are location and socioeconomic context specific. Future vulnerability will be influenced by changes in demography, economics, and policies (development and climate driven) that are difficult to predict and dependent on international and national considerations. Another uncertainty is the potential for adaptation strategies (and to a lesser extent mitigation) to reduce these vulnerabilities. There are also uncertainties associated with the character of the interconnections among systems, and the positive and negative synergies. For example, a key uncertainty is how systems will respond during extreme events and how people will adjust their short- to long-term planning to take account of a dynamic climate. Such events are, by definition, manifestations of historically rare and therefore relatively undocumented climatology which represent uncertainty in the exposure to climate risk. Nonetheless, these events are correlated, when considered holistically, with climate change driven to some degree by human interference with the climate system. There are uncertainties in exposure. There are also uncertainties associated with sensitivity to future changes driven to some (potentially significant) degree by non-climate stressors, including background health of the human population and development decisions. Other uncertainties include how much effort will be put into making systems more resilient and the success of these efforts. Another critical uncertainty is associated with the climate system

Assessment of confidence based on evidence: Given the evidence base and remaining uncertainties, confidence is: Very high for sea level rise and coastal flooding as well as heat waves. High for intense precipitation events and riverine flooding. Very high for both added stresses on environmental, social, and economic systems and for increased vulnerability, especially for populations that are already most disadvantaged.

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