L1.1 Developing Climate Risk Information for Cities: Key Findings from UCCRN ARC3.2

Monday, 23 January 2017: 1:30 PM
Conference Center: Tahoma 2 (Washington State Convention Center )
Cynthia Rosenzweig, Columbia University, New York City, NY

Cities are acting as world leaders in advancing action for climate change mitigation, adaptation, and resiliency. Through leading international climate groups such as C40 Climate Leadership Group, ICLEI – Local Governments for Sustainability, and the United Cities and Local Governments, cities around the globe have pledged their commitment to mitigate and adapt to climate change. In January 2017, more than 7,100 cities will come together as the EU Covenant of Mayors and the Compact of Mayors merge efforts to form the new Global Covenant of Mayors for Climate and Energy. In order for these commitments to be on track and for cities to take the most effective action, it is critical that the best available science is used to inform key leaders and stakeholders of the risks that climate change will pose to urban areas.

Human-caused climate change presents significant risks to cities beyond the familiar risks caused by natural variations in climate and seasonal weather patterns. Both types of risk require sustained attention from city governments in order to improve urban resilience. One of the foundations for effective adaptation planning is to co-develop plans with stakeholders and scientists who can provide urban-scale information about climate risks—both current risks and projections of future changes in extreme events.

Weather and climate forecasts of daily, weekly, and seasonal patterns and extreme events are already widely used at international, national, and regional scales. These forecasts demonstrate the value of climate science information that is communicated clearly and in a timely way. Climate change projections perform the same functions on longer timescales. These efforts now need to be carried out on the city scale.

Within cities, various neighborhoods experience different microclimates. Therefore, urban monitoring networks are needed to address the unique challenges such as urban heat island, poor air quality, and impacts of extreme climate effects at neighborhood scales. The observations collected through such urban monitoring networks can be used as a key component of a citywide climate indicators and monitoring system that enables decision-makers to understand the variety of climate risks across the city landscape.

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