The motley drivers of heat and cold exposure in 21st century US cities

Ashley Mark Broadbent, Eric Scott Krayenhoff, Matei Georgescu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

38 Scopus citations


We use a suite of decadal-length regional climate simulations to quantify potential changes in population-weighted heat and cold exposure in 47 US metropolitan regions during the 21st century. Our results show that population-weighted exposure to locally defined extreme heat (i.e., "population heat exposure") would increase by a factor of 12.7-29.5 under a high-intensity greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and urban development pathway. Additionally, end -of-century population cold exposure is projected to rise by a factor of 1.3-2.2, relative to start-of-century population cold exposure. We identify specific metropolitan regions in which population heat exposure would increase most markedly and characterize the relative significance of various drivers responsible for this increase. The largest absolute changes in population heat exposure during the 21st century are projected to occur in major US metropolitan regions like New York City (NY), Los Angeles (CA), Atlanta (GA), and Washington DC. The largest relative changes in population heat exposure (i.e., changes relative to start-of-century) are projected to occur in rapidly growing cities across the US Sunbelt, for example Orlando (FL), Austin (TX), Miami (FL), and Atlanta. The surge in population heat exposure across the Sunbelt is driven by concurrent GHGinduced warming and population growth which, in tandem, could strongly compound population heat exposure. Our simulations provide initial guidance to inform the prioritization of urban climate adaptation measures and policy.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)21108-21117
Number of pages10
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Issue number35
StatePublished - Sep 1 2020


  • Climate adaptation
  • Climate change
  • Cold exposure
  • Heat exposure
  • Urban climate

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General


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