finding 19.1 : key-message-19-1

Many southeastern cities are particularly vulnerable to climate change compared to cities in other regions, with expected impacts to infrastructure and human health (very likely, very high confidence). The vibrancy and viability of these metropolitan areas, including the people and critical regional resources located in them, are increasingly at risk due to heat, flooding, and vector-borne disease brought about by a changing climate (likely, high confidence). Many of these urban areas are rapidly growing and offer opportunities to adopt effective adaptation efforts to prevent future negative impacts of climate change (very likely, high confidence).

This finding is from chapter 19 of Impacts, Risks, and Adaptation in the United States: The Fourth National Climate Assessment, Volume II.

Process for developing key messages:

Prior to identifying critical issues for the Southeast assessment focuses for the Fourth National Climate Assessment (NCA4), the Chapter Lead (CL) contacted numerous professional colleagues representing various geographic areas (e.g., Florida, Louisiana, and South Carolina) for expert opinions on critical climate change related issues impacting the region, with a particular emphasis on emerging issues since the Third National Climate Assessment (NCA3) effort.7bdd9d20-6e83-40ab-8d50-68272c2b3dc9 Following those interviews, the CL concluded that the most pressing climate change issues to focus on for the NCA4 effort were extreme events, flooding (both from rainfall and sea level rise), wildfire, health issues, ecosystems, and adaptation actions. Authors with specific expertise in each of these areas were sought, and a draft outline built around these issues was developed. Further refinement of these focal areas occurred in conjunction with the public Regional Engagement Workshop, held on the campus of North Carolina State University in March 2017 and in six satellite locations across the Southeast region. The participants agreed that the identified issues were important and suggested the inclusion of several other topics, including impacts on coastal and rural areas and people, forests, and agriculture. Based on the subsequent authors’ meeting and input from NCA staff, the chapter outline and Key Messages were updated to reflect a risk-based framing in the context of a new set of Key Messages. The depth of discussion for any particular topic and Key Message is dependent on the availability of supporting literature and chapter length limitations.

Description of evidence base:

Multiple studies have projected that urban areas, including those in the Southeast, will be adversely affected by climate change in a variety of ways. This includes impacts on infrastructure00e98394-26f1-45da-a5a3-e79b2b1a356f,e231be91-fafb-44c7-a1b0-3d3a6cc0aa60,42a7f69d-ae47-4518-b39a-990c82e7bfbe,820ebb42-525d-48f8-b633-97e9698e4b28,80e7e34f-850c-4f8a-a7e4-ca561a23ebd4,afa3ac05-9fe6-442e-8c02-677b818feb69 and human health.9cef8d69-7596-480a-81b6-abd09ff1c1e3,738c9d34-efbc-4759-b302-f40c5a14a50a,95d40945-3680-42c2-99c0-e59d1af99867,d6e399c7-1efe-4f91-927e-f957965e3aaa Increases in climate-related impacts have already been observed in some Southeast metropolitan areas (e.g., Habeeb et al. 2015, Tzung-May Fu et al. 20154b55e347-52cb-4301-9eea-ad3858c6fc1d,ca0d310d-2a40-4081-b999-b8d5afc8c63c).

Southeastern cities may be more vulnerable than cities in other regions of the United States due to the climate being more conducive to some vector-borne diseases, the presence of multiple large coastal cities at low elevation that are vulnerable to flooding and storms, and a rapidly growing urban and coastal population.446a98e1-77e4-4654-9125-277eab402a9f,f5faf77d-e40f-4647-9042-0535a3b2511e,541baa00-0f34-41b9-a10f-adf41b03961d

Many city and county governments, utilities, and other government and service organizations have already begun to plan and prepare for the impacts of climate change (e.g., Gregg et al. 2017.; FTA 2013; City of Fayetteville 2017; City of Charleston 2015; City of New Orleans 2015; Tampa Bay Water 2014; EPA 2015; City of Atlanta 2015, 2017; Southeast Florida Regional Climate Change Compact 201729100037-c24e-4309-b6a2-e4397db7ed01,fb8a8ec4-cc8b-4b20-8230-5bbaf2ce992f,f0bebb46-8652-4edb-aca2-72d1029e6762,f0c5b068-d261-42b1-86e6-a6bd770bbf83,b8b0eba6-9f78-4777-95d7-42640d763906,bd3dbfa7-8dc4-4442-9cf2-14f583dc4a36,274e822c-f2e8-453e-8fa8-6fc16658ab71,daef52e5-526b-4499-8c36-c920dbe7df41,9ebd5ac8-5395-431c-81be-73f74f0ff87c). A wide variety of adaptation options are available, offering opportunities to improve the climate resilience, quality of life, and economy of urban areas.7bdd9d20-6e83-40ab-8d50-68272c2b3dc9,16013b5e-faaa-4bdd-8c33-cd46dba8f9e9,0f9545b2-e0ff-42fb-a5df-7237a2e9d494,3db8e726-7d35-47e0-aeb0-f6ac961af8fe,f38b1c9b-3c1e-4408-9549-6e32437955ae,2ad1b98e-3231-40a2-801c-76321d8044b3

New information and remaining uncertainties:

Population projections are inherently uncertain over long time periods, and shifts in immigration or migration rates and shifting demographics will influence urban vulnerabilities to climate change. The precise impacts on cities are difficult to project. The scope and scale of adaptation efforts, which are already underway, will affect future vulnerability and risk. Technological developments (such as a potential shift in transportation modes) will also affect the scope and location of risk within cities. Newly emerging pathogens could increase risk of disease in the future, while successful adaptations could reduce public health risk.

Assessment of confidence based on evidence:

There is very high confidence that southeastern cities will likely be impacted by climate change, especially in the areas of infrastructure and human health.

This finding was derived from scenario rcp_4_5
This finding was derived from scenario rcp_8_5

References :

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