skip to main content
DOE PAGES title logo U.S. Department of Energy
Office of Scientific and Technical Information

Title: Doubling of U.S. Population Exposure to Climate Extremes by 2050

Abstract

We quantify historical and projected trends in the population exposure to climate extremes as measured by the United States National Center for Environmental Information Climate Extremes Index (CEI). Based on the analyses of the historical observations, we find that the U.S. has already experienced a rise in the occurrence of aggregated extremes in recent decades, consistent with the climate response to historical increases in radiative forcing. Additionally, we find that exposure can be expected to intensify under the Representative Concentration Pathway 8.5, with all counties permanently exceeding the baseline variability in the occurrence of extreme hot days, warm nights, and drought conditions by 2050. As a result, every county in the U.S. is projected to permanently exceed the historical CEI variability (as measured by one standard deviation during the 1981–2005 period). Based on the current population distribution, this unprecedented change implies a yearly exposure to extreme conditions for one in every three people. We find that the increasing trend in exposure to the aggregated extremes is already detectable over much of the U.S., and particularly in the central and eastern U.S. The high correspondence between the pattern of trends in our simulations and observations increases confidence in the projected amplificationmore » of population exposure to unprecedented combinations of extreme climate conditions, should greenhouse gas concentrations continue to escalate along their current trajectory.« less

Authors:
 [1]; ORCiD logo [2]; ORCiD logo [3]; ORCiD logo [2]; ORCiD logo [2];  [4];  [5]
  1. Oak Ridge National Lab. (ORNL), Oak Ridge, TN (United States); Istanbul Technical Univ. (Turkey)
  2. Oak Ridge National Lab. (ORNL), Oak Ridge, TN (United States)
  3. Stanford Univ., CA (United States)
  4. Istanbul Technical Univ. (Turkey); National Center for Atmospheric Research, Boulder, CO (United States)
  5. Istanbul Technical Univ. (Turkey)
Publication Date:
Research Org.:
Oak Ridge National Lab. (ORNL), Oak Ridge, TN (United States)
Sponsoring Org.:
USDOE Office of Science (SC), Biological and Environmental Research (BER)
OSTI Identifier:
1630513
Grant/Contract Number:  
AC05-00OR22725
Resource Type:
Accepted Manuscript
Journal Name:
Earth's Future
Additional Journal Information:
Journal Volume: 8; Journal Issue: 4; Journal ID: ISSN 2328-4277
Publisher:
American Geophysical Union (AGU)
Country of Publication:
United States
Language:
English
Subject:
54 ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCES; multivariate extremes; population exposure; detection and attribution; weather and climate; time of emergence; climate extremes index

Citation Formats

Batibeniz, Fulden, Ashfaq, Moetasim, Diffenbaugh, Noah, Key, Kesondra, Evans, Katherine, Turuncoglu, Ufuk, and Onol, Baris. Doubling of U.S. Population Exposure to Climate Extremes by 2050. United States: N. p., 2020. Web. doi:10.1029/2019EF001421.
Batibeniz, Fulden, Ashfaq, Moetasim, Diffenbaugh, Noah, Key, Kesondra, Evans, Katherine, Turuncoglu, Ufuk, & Onol, Baris. Doubling of U.S. Population Exposure to Climate Extremes by 2050. United States. doi:https://doi.org/10.1029/2019EF001421
Batibeniz, Fulden, Ashfaq, Moetasim, Diffenbaugh, Noah, Key, Kesondra, Evans, Katherine, Turuncoglu, Ufuk, and Onol, Baris. Mon . "Doubling of U.S. Population Exposure to Climate Extremes by 2050". United States. doi:https://doi.org/10.1029/2019EF001421. https://www.osti.gov/servlets/purl/1630513.
@article{osti_1630513,
title = {Doubling of U.S. Population Exposure to Climate Extremes by 2050},
author = {Batibeniz, Fulden and Ashfaq, Moetasim and Diffenbaugh, Noah and Key, Kesondra and Evans, Katherine and Turuncoglu, Ufuk and Onol, Baris},
abstractNote = {We quantify historical and projected trends in the population exposure to climate extremes as measured by the United States National Center for Environmental Information Climate Extremes Index (CEI). Based on the analyses of the historical observations, we find that the U.S. has already experienced a rise in the occurrence of aggregated extremes in recent decades, consistent with the climate response to historical increases in radiative forcing. Additionally, we find that exposure can be expected to intensify under the Representative Concentration Pathway 8.5, with all counties permanently exceeding the baseline variability in the occurrence of extreme hot days, warm nights, and drought conditions by 2050. As a result, every county in the U.S. is projected to permanently exceed the historical CEI variability (as measured by one standard deviation during the 1981–2005 period). Based on the current population distribution, this unprecedented change implies a yearly exposure to extreme conditions for one in every three people. We find that the increasing trend in exposure to the aggregated extremes is already detectable over much of the U.S., and particularly in the central and eastern U.S. The high correspondence between the pattern of trends in our simulations and observations increases confidence in the projected amplification of population exposure to unprecedented combinations of extreme climate conditions, should greenhouse gas concentrations continue to escalate along their current trajectory.},
doi = {10.1029/2019EF001421},
journal = {Earth's Future},
number = 4,
volume = 8,
place = {United States},
year = {2020},
month = {3}
}

Journal Article:
Free Publicly Available Full Text
Publisher's Version of Record

Save / Share:

Works referenced in this record:

The RCP greenhouse gas concentrations and their extensions from 1765 to 2300
journal, August 2011


Climate change hotspots in the CMIP5 global climate model ensemble
journal, August 2012


Projections of Future Drought in the Continental United States and Mexico
journal, December 2011

  • Wehner, Michael; Easterling, David R.; Lawrimore, Jay H.
  • Journal of Hydrometeorology, Vol. 12, Issue 6
  • DOI: 10.1175/2011JHM1351.1

Drought impacts on children's respiratory health in the Brazilian Amazon
journal, January 2014

  • Smith, Lauren T.; Aragão, Luiz E. O. C.; Sabel, Clive E.
  • Scientific Reports, Vol. 4, Issue 1
  • DOI: 10.1038/srep03726

Dependence of drivers affects risks associated with compound events
journal, June 2017


Near-term acceleration of hydroclimatic change in the western U.S.: NEAR-TERM WESTERN US SNOW
journal, October 2013

  • Ashfaq, Moetasim; Ghosh, Subimal; Kao, Shih-Chieh
  • Journal of Geophysical Research: Atmospheres, Vol. 118, Issue 19
  • DOI: 10.1002/jgrd.50816

Introduction to the special issue: the phase I CORDEX RegCM4 hyper-matrix (CREMA) experiment
journal, June 2014


The Potential to Narrow Uncertainty in Regional Climate Predictions
journal, August 2009

  • Hawkins, Ed; Sutton, Rowan
  • Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society, Vol. 90, Issue 8
  • DOI: 10.1175/2009BAMS2607.1

The Regional Climate Change Hyper-Matrix Framework
journal, November 2008

  • Giorgi, Filippo; Diffenbaugh, Noah S.; Gao, Xue J.
  • Eos, Transactions American Geophysical Union, Vol. 89, Issue 45
  • DOI: 10.1029/2008EO450001

Drought disturbance from climate change: response of United States forests
journal, November 2000


Quantifying the influence of global warming on unprecedented extreme climate events
journal, April 2017

  • Diffenbaugh, Noah S.; Singh, Deepti; Mankin, Justin S.
  • Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Vol. 114, Issue 19
  • DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1618082114

Time of emergence of climate signals: TIME OF EMERGENCE OF CLIMATE SIGNALS
journal, January 2012


Global scale climate–crop yield relationships and the impacts of recent warming
journal, March 2007


Effects of climate extremes on the terrestrial carbon cycle: concepts, processes and potential future impacts
journal, May 2015

  • Frank, Dorothea; Reichstein, Markus; Bahn, Michael
  • Global Change Biology, Vol. 21, Issue 8
  • DOI: 10.1111/gcb.12916

Time of emergence of anthropogenic warming signals in the Northeast Asia assessed from multi-regional climate models
journal, May 2016

  • Lee, Donghyun; Min, Seung-Ki; Park, Changyong
  • Asia-Pacific Journal of Atmospheric Sciences, Vol. 52, Issue 2
  • DOI: 10.1007/s13143-016-0014-z

Increasing precipitation volatility in twenty-first-century California
journal, April 2018

  • Swain, Daniel L.; Langenbrunner, Baird; Neelin, J. David
  • Nature Climate Change, Vol. 8, Issue 5
  • DOI: 10.1038/s41558-018-0140-y

Climate change hotspots in the United States
journal, January 2008

  • Diffenbaugh, Noah S.; Giorgi, Filippo; Pal, Jeremy S.
  • Geophysical Research Letters, Vol. 35, Issue 16
  • DOI: 10.1029/2008GL035075

Extreme hydrological changes in the southwestern US drive reductions in water supply to Southern California by mid century
journal, September 2016


The effect of environmental change on human migration
journal, December 2011


Communication of the role of natural variability in future North American climate
journal, October 2012

  • Deser, Clara; Knutti, Reto; Solomon, Susan
  • Nature Climate Change, Vol. 2, Issue 11
  • DOI: 10.1038/nclimate1562

Time of emergence (TOE) of GHG-forced precipitation change hot-spots
journal, January 2009

  • Giorgi, Filippo; Bi, Xunqiang
  • Geophysical Research Letters, Vol. 36, Issue 6
  • DOI: 10.1029/2009GL037593

Complexity of Coupled Human and Natural Systems
journal, September 2007


Heat-Related Mortality and Adaptation to Heat in the United States
journal, August 2014

  • Bobb, Jennifer F.; Peng, Roger D.; Bell, Michelle L.
  • Environmental Health Perspectives, Vol. 122, Issue 8
  • DOI: 10.1289/ehp.1307392

Spatially explicit global population scenarios consistent with the Shared Socioeconomic Pathways
journal, July 2016


Precipitation extremes over the continental United States in a transient, high-resolution, ensemble climate model experiment: U.S. PRECIPITATION EXTREMES WITH WARMING
journal, July 2013

  • Singh, Deepti; Tsiang, Michael; Rajaratnam, Bala
  • Journal of Geophysical Research: Atmospheres, Vol. 118, Issue 13
  • DOI: 10.1002/jgrd.50543

Climate change impacts on flood risk and asset damages within mapped 100-year floodplains of the contiguous United States
journal, January 2017

  • Wobus, Cameron; Gutmann, Ethan; Jones, Russell
  • Natural Hazards and Earth System Sciences, Vol. 17, Issue 12
  • DOI: 10.5194/nhess-17-2199-2017

Global non-linear effect of temperature on economic production
journal, October 2015

  • Burke, Marshall; Hsiang, Solomon M.; Miguel, Edward
  • Nature, Vol. 527, Issue 7577
  • DOI: 10.1038/nature15725

IPCC Special Report on Managing the Risks of Extreme Events and Disasters to Advance Climate Change Adaptation (SREX)
journal, July 2012

  • Murray, Virginia; Ebi, Kristie L.
  • Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health, Vol. 66, Issue 9
  • DOI: 10.1136/jech-2012-201045

Transient regional climate change: Analysis of the summer climate response in a high-resolution, century-scale ensemble experiment over the continental United States: TRANSIENT REGIONAL CLIMATE CHANGE
journal, December 2011

  • Diffenbaugh, Noah S.; Ashfaq, Moetasim; Scherer, Martin
  • Journal of Geophysical Research: Atmospheres, Vol. 116, Issue D24
  • DOI: 10.1029/2011JD016458

Social and economic impacts of climate
journal, September 2016


Physiographically sensitive mapping of climatological temperature and precipitation across the conterminous United States
journal, December 2008

  • Daly, Christopher; Halbleib, Michael; Smith, Joseph I.
  • International Journal of Climatology, Vol. 28, Issue 15
  • DOI: 10.1002/joc.1688

A Revised U.S. Climate Extremes Index
journal, May 2008

  • Gleason, Karin L.; Lawrimore, Jay H.; Levinson, David H.
  • Journal of Climate, Vol. 21, Issue 10
  • DOI: 10.1175/2007JCLI1883.1

High-resolution ensemble projections of near-term regional climate over the continental United States: CLIMATE PROJECTIONS OVER THE U.S.
journal, September 2016

  • Ashfaq, Moetasim; Rastogi, Deeksha; Mei, Rui
  • Journal of Geophysical Research: Atmospheres, Vol. 121, Issue 17
  • DOI: 10.1002/2016JD025285

Observed and anticipated impacts of drought on forest insects and diseases in the United States
journal, November 2016


Overview of deaths associated with natural events, United States, 1979-2004
journal, February 2008


Strengthened scientific support for the Endangerment Finding for atmospheric greenhouse gases
journal, December 2018

  • Duffy, Philip B.; Field, Christopher B.; Diffenbaugh, Noah S.
  • Science, Vol. 363, Issue 6427
  • DOI: 10.1126/science.aat5982

The Physics of Drought in the U.S. Central Great Plains
journal, September 2016


Changes in the Frequency and Intensity of Extreme Temperature Events and Human Health Concerns
journal, June 2015


Substantial increase in concurrent droughts and heatwaves in the United States
journal, August 2015

  • Mazdiyasni, Omid; AghaKouchak, Amir
  • Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Vol. 112, Issue 37
  • DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1422945112

Rural drinking water issues in India’s drought-prone area: a case of Maharashtra state
journal, July 2016


Uncertainty in climate projections and time of emergence of climate signals in the western Canadian Prairies
journal, April 2019

  • Barrow, Elaine M.; Sauchyn, David J.
  • International Journal of Climatology, Vol. 39, Issue 11
  • DOI: 10.1002/joc.6079

The impact of climate change on birds: Impact of climate change on birds
journal, September 2004


RegCM4: model description and preliminary tests over multiple CORDEX domains
journal, March 2012

  • Giorgi, F.; Coppola, E.; Solmon, F.
  • Climate Research, Vol. 52
  • DOI: 10.3354/cr01018

Rice yields in tropical/subtropical Asia exhibit large but opposing sensitivities to minimum and maximum temperatures
journal, August 2010

  • Welch, J. R.; Vincent, J. R.; Auffhammer, M.
  • Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Vol. 107, Issue 33
  • DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1001222107

Regional hydrologic response to climate change in the conterminous United States using high-resolution hydroclimate simulations
journal, August 2016


Influence of internal variability on population exposure to hydroclimatic changes
journal, March 2017

  • Mankin, Justin S.; Viviroli, Daniel; Mekonnen, Mesfin M.
  • Environmental Research Letters, Vol. 12, Issue 4
  • DOI: 10.1088/1748-9326/aa5efc

Betting on negative emissions
journal, September 2014

  • Fuss, Sabine; Canadell, Josep G.; Peters, Glen P.
  • Nature Climate Change, Vol. 4, Issue 10
  • DOI: 10.1038/nclimate2392

Estimating economic damage from climate change in the United States
journal, June 2017


Intensification of hot extremes in the United States: INTENSIFICATION OF HOT EXTREMES
journal, August 2010

  • Diffenbaugh, Noah S.; Ashfaq, Moetasim
  • Geophysical Research Letters, Vol. 37, Issue 15
  • DOI: 10.1029/2010GL043888

Nighttime temperature and human sleep loss in a changing climate
journal, May 2017

  • Obradovich, Nick; Migliorini, Robyn; Mednick, Sara C.
  • Science Advances, Vol. 3, Issue 5
  • DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.1601555

Influence of climate model biases and daily-scale temperature and precipitation events on hydrological impacts assessment: A case study of the United States
journal, January 2010

  • Ashfaq, Moetasim; Bowling, Laura C.; Cherkauer, Keith
  • Journal of Geophysical Research, Vol. 115, Issue D14
  • DOI: 10.1029/2009JD012965

Climate change hot-spots
journal, January 2006


Shift in seasonal climate patterns likely to impact residential energy consumption in the United States
journal, July 2019

  • Rastogi, Deeksha; Holladay, James Scott; Evans, Katherine J.
  • Environmental Research Letters, Vol. 14, Issue 7
  • DOI: 10.1088/1748-9326/ab22d2