Capsule

Where are climate extremes happening? This information is urgently needed. We combine this information with social demographic data to create an index identifying U.S. locations vulnerable to climate extremes.

Abstract

The occurrence of extreme weather and climate events has increased in recent decades. This increasing frequency has adversely impacted economic and health outcomes, leading to an increasingly urgent need to study climate extremes. The National Centers for Environmental Information (NCEI) created the Climate Extremes Index (CEI) in 1996 to quantify climate extremes. In this article, we explore the potential for enhancing the CEI via the use of the Z-score statistic to calculate the CEI on a numerical scale, to increase usability at smaller spatial scales, and to allow the creation of a new climate Extremes Vulnerability Index (EVI). The EVI combines the results from the revised CEI with values from the Social Vulnerability Index from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The EVI can be used by policy makers, planners, and the public to understand a subregion’s vulnerability to climate extremes. This information from the EVI could then be used to implement policies and changes in infrastructure that mitigate risk in vulnerable climate divisions. In a trial application, it is found that the Southeastern and portions of the Central United States had the highest levels of vulnerability for the abnormal month of December 2015.

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Footnotes

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Current affiliation: The Climate Service, Durham, NC.