2017 was a record year for natural disasters in the US, with 16 severe weather events causing at least $306 billion in damages. While 2018 portends to be less destructive, it has already seen its fair share of catastrophe: As of July 9, six storms have each generated at least
We asked 11 climate scientists where they'd live in the US to avoid future natural disasters — here’s what they said
The scientists were careful to note that no city is safe from natural disaster, though a few are less vulnerable than most. Cities like Portland, Tulsa, and Minneapolis ranked among the preferred locations for avoiding climate change today and in the future.
To figure out what areas are least vulnerable to natural disaster in the future, we asked 11 climatologists where they would consider living to avoid climate change. All were quick to note that no area is entirely safe, but a few cities could be less vulnerable than most.
Scientists are still working to define the relationship between climate change and natural disasters. In the last ten to 15 years, they have found evidence of the mounting influence of climate change on major events like
be impacting where Americans choose to move. recent study
Cities that are not currently in danger of flooding from sea level rise will be safe in the future, while places like Miami could see their flooding intensify, said Richard Alley, a climate science professor at Pennsylvania State University. Beyond that, Alley said, it's difficult to predict what may happen.
Two of the top criteria for avoiding sea level rise are high elevation and location in the middle of the country, said Camilo Mora, an associate professor who researches biodiversity at the University of Hawaii. In the event of a disaster, Mora said residents should look for places where they can live self-sufficiently, with their own agricultural system and body of water that doesn't depend on melting ice.
While Mora didn't identify a city that meets each of these criteria, Boulder, Colorado seems to fit the bill. In addition to being seated far away from the coast, Boulder has an altitude of more than
San Diego, California
San Diego may be exposed to rising sea levels, but its coastal location gives it a host of advantages. According to research from Sarah Kapnick, a climate scientist at Princeton University, San Diego may have the most ideal weather of any US city.
After studying the number of "mild weather" days those suited for outdoor activities, with low precipitation, low humidity, and temperatures between 64 and 86 degrees Fahrenheit
This wasn't the case in San Diego, which currently boasts 180 days of mild weather per year compared to
That's a major worry, but
Minneapolis-St Paul, Minnesota
tate climatologist at California's Department of Water Resources. ty less than two hours outside San Francisco th
ng, droughts, landslides, and wildfires, he said, Sacramento should have fewer concerns than most cities.
Charlotte, North Carolina
which could get worse with climate change. Th
For those unwilling to give up on a coastal property, Portland may be the ideal locale. Compared to other coastal states, Oregon has less property risk and less physical area exposed to sea level rise, said Kristy Dahl.
It's also less vulnerable to hurricanes compared to cities along the eastern and gulf coasts, said Astrid Caldas, a senior climate scientist at UCS.
Though he travels to dozens of cities each year, Shandas said few cities rival Portland's ability to withstand
In 1993, Portland became the first US city to devise a plan for cutting carbon, vowing to reduce local carbon emissions by 80% by 2050. The city is also a recipient of the C40 Cities award, which
Anywhere but Hawaii
It's nearly impossible to predict which cities are immune to a hurricane or tropical cyclone, saidHiro Murakami, an associate research scholar at Princeton who studies these phenomena. That's why he cautions against making any recommendations for places to live — except to warn people about moving to the Hawaiian Islands.
Murakami's skepticism is warranted. While a few of the climate scientists we surveyed preferred the same city, their responses tended to vary.
"There is no one-size-fits-all [prediction] when it pertains to climate change," said Caldas. "One may move away from the coast, only to find that inland floods are a problem. One may move from the south seeking cooler climates only to be hit by extreme precipitation, or drought, or wildfires. Each person or community needs to weigh all the factors carefully and choose their level of risk-taking."
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