- Technical Contributors:
- Julie Blue, Eastern Research Group, Inc.
- Kevin Bush, U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (through August 2017)
- USGCRP Coordinators:
- Natalie Bennett, Adaptation and Assessment Analyst
- Fredric Lipschultz, Senior Scientist and Regional Coordinator
<b>Maxwell</b>, K., S. Julius, A. Grambsch, A. Kosmal, L. Larson, and N. Sonti, 2018: Built Environment, Urban Systems, and Cities. In <i>Impacts, Risks, and Adaptation in the United States: Fourth National Climate Assessment, Volume II</i> [Reidmiller, D.R., C.W. Avery, D.R. Easterling, K.E. Kunkel, K.L.M. Lewis, T.K. Maycock, and B.C. Stewart (eds.)]. U.S. Global Change Research Program, Washington, DC, USA, pp. 438–478. doi: 10.7930/NCA4.2018.CH11
Built Environment, Urban Systems, and Cities
Urban areas, where the vast majority of Americans live, are engines of economic growth and contain land valued at trillions of dollars. Cities around the United States face a number of challenges to prosperity, such as social inequality, aging and deteriorating infrastructure, and stressed ecosystems. These social, infrastructure, and environmental challenges affect urban exposure and susceptibility to climate change effects.
Urban areas are already experiencing the effects of climate change. Cities differ across regions in the acute and chronic climate stressors they are exposed to and how these stressors interact with local geographic characteristics. Cities are already subject to higher surface temperatures because of the urban heat island effect, which is projected to get stronger. Recent extreme weather events reveal the vulnerability of the built environment (infrastructure such as residential and commercial buildings, transportation, communications, energy, water systems, parks, streets, and landscaping) and its importance to how people live, study, recreate, and work. Heat waves and heavy rainfalls are expected to increase in frequency and intensity. The way city residents respond to such incidents depends on their understanding of risk, their way of life, access to resources, and the communities to which they belong. Infrastructure designed for historical climate trends is vulnerable to future weather extremes and climate change. Investing in forward-looking design can help ensure that infrastructure performs acceptably under changing climate conditions.
Urban areas are linked to local, regional, and global systems. Situations where multiple climate stressors simultaneously affect multiple city sectors, either directly or through system connections, are expected to become more common. When climate stressors affect one sector, cascading effects on other sectors increase risks to residents’ health and well-being. Cities across the Nation are taking action in response to climate change. U.S. cities are at the forefront of reducing greenhouse gas emissions and many have begun adaptation planning. These actions build urban resilience to climate change.
Projected Change in the Number of Very Hot Days
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