Using Scenario Analysis to Assess Credit Impact of Climate Risks

Climate-driven extreme weather events and the transition to a low-carbon economy are expected to have material impacts on companies, with increasing significance for credit analysis. However, both physical and transition risks have a wide range of potential outcomes. To better understand the credit implications and prepare for climate risks it is important to assess the rage of possible outcomes for a given sector or company.

In its report, Climate scenarios vital to assess credit impact of carbon transition, physical risks, Moody’s Investors Service describes a conceptual approach to scenario analysis, leveraging Four Twenty Seven’s methodology for physical risks. The transition risk approach begins by assessing the sector-specific credit implications of national commitments to the Paris Agreement based on the IEA Stated Policies Scenario (STEPS). The second step is to assess the implications of a more ambitious transition scenario to see how firms may be affected by more rapid decarbonization.  This step leverages the IEA’s Sustainable Development Scenario.

For physical climate risk, Moody’s leverages Four Twenty Seven’s approach for exploring the range of potential outcomes in the next 30 years. It’s important to note that in the near-term the uncertainty in physical outcomes is not driven by policy changes, but rather by scientific uncertainty within the climate models. The climate takes a long time to fully respond to greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, so physical climate events in the next few decades will be driven by carbon dioxide that’s already been released. By grouping the outcomes of climate models within a single RCP into low, medium and high tiers one can explore the range of potential severity in climate hazards such as extreme temperature and precipitation. Moody’s will use data from Four Twenty Seven that follows this approach to provide a uniform starting point from which to explore the range of credit implications of different climate hazards across sectors.

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To learn more about scenario analysis for physical climate risks read Four Twenty Seven’s paper, Demystifying Climate Scenario Analysis for Financial Stakeholders and check out solutions for investors, banks and corporations to manage their climate risk.

Utilities Exposed to Increasing Climate Risk

The increasing frequency and severity of extreme weather events and chronic stresses driven by climate change have particular implications for the utility sector. In it’s report, US Regulated Electric Utilities Face Varied Exposure to Climate Hazards, Moody’s Investors Service leverages Four Twenty Seven’s physical climate risk data to explore the exposure of regulated electric utilities to climate hazards, including heat stress, water stress, flooding and hurricanes.

The analysis found that heat stress will likely have the greatest impact on utilities in the Midwest and southern Florida, reducing power grids’ efficiency and increasing expenditures. The Western U.S., specifically the Rocky Mountain states and California, is the region most exposed to long-term water stress. Since many electric utilities depend on water for cooling, water stress is typically credit negative for utilities.

In other areas of the country utilities are exposed to  extreme rainfall and flooding, which are responsible for many power outages. However, regulation and flood insurance help to reduce the credit impacts of floods. Along the East Coast and the Gulf of Mexico’s coastal areas, increasingly severe hurricanes and storm surges will threaten key infrastructure assets such as transmissions substations and power plants. While hurricanes can lead to substantial costs and disruptions for utilities, the states in these regions often have credit-supportive regulation, allowing utilities to recoup costs after these events.

Utility companies across the U.S. are exposed to a variety of physical climate risks that threaten to damage or destroy utility infrastructure, increase operating expenses and affect their credit. These risks, however, can be mitigated with resilience investments by utility companies and by regulation and adaptation in jurisdictions in which they operate.

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To learn more about Four Twenty Seven’s climate risk data, check out our solutions for investors, banks and corporations or read our report on Assessing Exposure to Climate Risk in U.S. Municipalities.

Demystifying Climate Scenario Analysis for Financial Stakeholders

December 4, 2019 – 427 REPORT. Scenario analysis is an essential yet challenging component of understanding and preparing for the impacts of climate change on assets, markets and economies. When focusing on the short term, the warming and related impacts we have already committed to calls for scenarios that are decoupled from economic and policy activities and instead focus on the impacts that are already locked in. This report explores which impacts are already locked in, identifies how Representative Concentration Pathway (RCP) scenarios fit into the conversation, and describes an approach to setting up scenario analysis for near-term physical climate risks.

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As the effects of climate change increasingly threaten financial stability, investors and regulators are seeking to understand what impacts lie ahead, and calling for an increase in physical climate risk assessment and disclosure in line with the Task Force on Climate-related Financial Disclosures (TCFD). To assess the scale of financial risk posed by physical climate change it is important to quantify risks under different climate scenarios. How will changes in extreme weather patterns, longer droughts and rising seas differ under various scenarios? Answering these questions through scenario analysis helps uncover the range of risks, allowing investors to identify assets and markets that are more likely to become stranded over time and to begin developing forward-looking resilience strategies. However, science-driven, decision-useful scenario analysis poses many challenges for businesses and financial stakeholders today, due to complex feedback loops, varying timescales, and multiple interacting factors that ultimately determine how global climate change manifests.

 

Figure 2. Distribution of daily extreme temperature changes in 2030-2040, expressed as a percent change, relative to a baseline of 1975-2005 under RCP 8.5. This map shows statistically downscaled global climate models averaged together, for this time frame and scenario. NASA Earth Exchange Global Daily Downscaled Projections statistically downscales climate model outputs to a ~25 kilometer resolution (see full details here) White areas are excluded because they lack potential for significant economic activity.

This new report, Demystifying Climate Scenario Analysis for Financial Stakeholders, explores which physical impacts are already locked in, identifies how Representative Concentration Pathway (RCP) scenarios apply, and describes an approach to setting up scenario analysis for near-term physical climate risks. Scenario analysis is often approached from the perspective of transition risk, where policy developments and greenhouse gas (GHG) emission targets are the key drivers of risk pathways over the near-term, in the next 10 to 30 years. Physical risk, however, requires a different approach.  Impacts over the coming decades are largely locked in, making the emissions scenarios less relevant. Unlike transition risk, GHG emission pathways play a minimal role in the behavior of the near-term climate and GHG emission pathways only begin to meaningfully influence global temperatures near mid-century. The uncertainty in physical climate risks in the near-term is driven by uncertainty in physical processes, rather than in policy decisions.

For organizations looking to construct physical climate risk scenarios for risk management and strategy purposes, it is critical to understand the scientific phenomena driving our plausible climate futures. This report outlines an approach called percentile-based analysis, which allows users to explore the range of potential outcomes based on climate model outputs within a single RCP. This offers a flexible, data-driven approach, suitable for portfolio-level screenings, reporting, and in some cases, direct engagement with asset managers.

Key Takeaways:

  • Quantifying climate risks under different scenarios is a key element in understanding how physical climate risks pose financial risks.
  • Scenario analysis is often approached from the perspective of transition risk, where policy developments and greenhouse gas emission targets are the key drivers of risk pathways in the next 10 to 30 years. However, physical climate impacts over the coming decades are largely locked in, so physical risk requires a different approach.
  • Even if we stopped emitting carbon dioxide tomorrow, many physical climate impacts, such as increasing temperatures, more severe droughts, and rising sea levels, would already be locked in because of the time carbon dioxide stays in the atmosphere and the time it takes the atmosphere to respond.
  • The uncertainty in how physical climate risks may manifest in the next few decades is driven by model uncertainty, which should therefore be the focus of scenario analysis for physical climate risks in the near-term.
  • Percentile-based analysis offers a flexible, data-driven approach, suitable for portfolio-level screenings, reporting, and in some cases, direct engagement with asset managers.

Download the report.

Download the press release.

 

Credit Quality in U.S. Governments Exposed to Heat Stress

As climate change increasingly leads to costly disasters, municipalities face challenging choices around rebuilding, preparing proactively and raising funds for these goals. Local governments face different challenges based on their size, economy, resources and geographic location. In this analysis, Moody’s Investor Service looks at Four Twenty Seven’s data on exposure to heat stress in U.S. jurisdictions alongside information on outstanding debt and credit quality.

The analysis found that 21% of outstanding debt that Moody’s rates is exposed to high or very high heat stress. Almost 80% of the roughly $190 billion in debt that’s issued in areas with high exposure to heat stress is in the central U.S. and Florida. The Midwest is projected to experience the most significant rise in extreme temperatures by mid-century. The Southeast, on the other hand,  is expected to have a higher number of extreme heat days.  However, its residents and infrastructure are more acclimated to hot conditions, which can help alleviate some of the physiological and structural impacts of extreme heat.

Heat stress can lead to increased costs due to infrastructure damage, energy demand and resilience investment and can also threaten public health and economic productivity. However, many jurisdictions in the Southeast and Midwest have characteristics that reduce credit risk. The Southeast tends to have large, diversified economies, as well as large tax bases and growing populations. Meanwhile, the Midwest tends to have strong cash balances alongside median family incomes that help to buffer risk. The credit risk to extreme heat in these regions is largely balanced out by these credit-positive characteristics.

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Four Twenty Seven’s municipal climate risk data assesses the exposure of U.S. cities above 50,000 in population and all U.S. counties to floods, heat stress, hurricanes, sea level rise and water stress. To learn more read our analysis, Assessing Exposure to Climate Risk in U.S. Municipalities or explore our data products.

Assessing Local Adaptive Capacity to Understand Corporate and Financial Climate Risks

January 15, 2019 – 427 REPORT. Building resilient communities and financial systems requires an understanding of climate risk exposure, but also of how prepared communities are to manage that risk. Understanding  the adaptive capacity, or ability to prepare for change and leverage opportunities, of the surrounding area can help businesses and investors determine how exposure to climate risk is likely to impact their assets and what the most strategic responses may be. This report outlines Four Twenty Seven’s framework for creating location-specific actionable assessments of adaptive capacity to inform business and investment decisions and catalyze resilience-building. 

Every investment, from real assets to corporate initiatives, is inextricably connected to its surrounding community. From flooded or damaged public infrastructure hindering employee and customer commutes to competition for water resources threatening business operations and urban heat reducing public health, the impacts of climate change on a community will impact the businesses and real estate investors based in that community. Thus, evaluating how acute and chronic physical climate hazards will affect local communities and communities’ responses enables investors and corporations to assess the full extent of the risks they face.

This report, Assessing Local Adaptive Capacity to Understand Corporate and Financial Climate Risks, outlines Four Twenty Seven’s framework for capturing a city’s adaptive capacity in a way that’s actionable for corporations seeking to understand the risk and resilience of their own facilities and for investors assessing risk in their portfolios or screening potential investments. The framework focuses on three main pillars: 1) awareness, 2) economic and financial characteristics, and 3) the quality of adaptation planning and implementation. It is informed by social sciences research, recent work by credit rating agencies, and our experience working directly with cities and investors.

Figure 2. After New York City subways were flooded during Hurricane Sandy, the New York MTA issued a catastrophe bond to obtain $200 million in insurance coverage, providing an important financial safety net for the city. Image from Wikimedia, by Metropolitan Transportation Authority of the State of New York used with a Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license.

While a city’s adaptive capacity plays a key role in determining whether or not exposure to climate hazards will lead to damage and loss, cities are also likely to find that their resilience to climate impacts is an increasingly important factor in attracting business and financing, as adaptive capacity is more frequently integrated into credit ratings and screening processes. It is valuable for both cities to understand how investors are interpreting adaptive capacity and for investors to understand which factors of local adaptive capacity translate into increased resilience and reduced financial loss for their assets.

Key Takeaways

  • Corporate and real asset investments can be financially impacted by climate-driven weather events and chronic stresses, even with strong internal risk management systems in place, as climate events can affect the broader community and disrupt local infrastructure.
  • Adaptive capacity, the ability to adjust to potential damage and leverage opportunities, will influence how local jurisdictions and infrastructure are affected by climate-driven weather events.
  • Four Twenty Seven has developed a framework to assess the adaptive capacity of local jurisdictions to inform the private sector, examining a city’s awareness of climate impacts, economic characteristics, and adaptation planning efforts.
  • Understanding a local jurisdiction’s adaptive capacity provides opportunities to engage with decision-makers and relevant institutions to support local efforts to build resilience.

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Climate Risk, Real Estate, and the Bottom Line

OCTOBER 11, 2018 – BOSTON, MA – Four Twenty Seven & GeoPhy Release First Global Dataset on Real Estate Investment Trusts’ Exposure to Climate Change. 

Four Twenty Seven and real estate technology company GeoPhy today announce the release of a data product that provides granular projections of the impacts of climate change on real estate investment trusts (REITs). REITs represent an increasingly important asset class that provides investors with a vehicle for gaining exposure to portfolios of real estate. The data was launched at the Urban Land Institute Fall Event in Boston, MA, accompanied by a white paper that lays out the implications of climate risk for the real estate sector.

Four Twenty Seven applied its scoring model of asset-level climate risk exposure to GeoPhy’s database of listed real estate investment trusts’ (REITs) holdings, to create the first global, scientific assessment of REITs’ exposure to climate risk. The dataset includes detailed, contextualized projections of climate impacts from floods due to extreme precipitation and sea level rise, exposure to hurricane-force winds,  water stress and heat stress for over 73,500 properties owned by 321 listed REITs.

“Real estate is on the frontline of exposure to climate change” said Emilie Mazzacurati, founder and CEO of Four Twenty Seven. “Many valuable locations and markets are often coastal or near bodies of water, and therefore are going to experience increases in flood occurrences due to increases in extreme rainfall and to sea level rise.” she noted. “These risks can now be assessed with great precision — the availability of this data provides investors with an opportunity to perform comprehensive due diligence which reflects all dimensions of emerging risks.” she concluded.

“The market has begun to price in the potential impacts of fat-tail climate events” noted Dr. Nils Kok, Chief Economist of GeoPhy. “Properties exposed to sea level rise in some parts of the United States are selling at a 7% discount to those with less exposure, and the value of commercial real estate is expected to equally reflect these risks. Leveraging forward-looking data on risk exposure can allow REIT investors to anticipate changes in market valuations and react accordingly.”

Read the report: Climate Risk, Real Estate, and the Bottom Line.

Key findings include:

  • 35 percent of REITs properties globally are currently exposed to climate hazards. Of these, 17 percent of properties are exposed to inland flood risk, 6 percent to sea level rise and coastal floods, and 12 percent to hurricanes or typhoons
  • U.S. markets most exposed to sea level rise include New York, San Francisco, Miami, Fort Lauderdale, and Boston. The high-value REITs most exposed to sea level rise in the U.S. are Vornado Realty Trust and Equity Residential.*
  • Globally, REITs concentrated in Hong Kong and Singapore display the highest exposure to rising seas. Sun Hung Kai Properties, worth $56 billion, has over a quarter of its properties exposed to coastal flooding.
  • 37 Japanese REITs have their entire portfolio exposed to the highest risk for typhoon globally, representing $264.5 billion at risk in properties in Tokyo and other Japanese cities.

Read the report Climate Risk, Real Estate, and the Bottom Line.

Download the Press Release.

*Erratum: A previous version of this blog post mentioned in error that CapitaLand is one of the U.S. REITs most exposed to sea level rise. CapitaLand is a Singapore-based REIT with some exposure to sea level rise but it is not among the most exposed.

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Read more about Four Twenty Seven’s REITs data product and our other solutions for investors.

The California Heat Assessment Tool

As California’s climate warms, residents increasingly endure extreme heat events that adversely impact public health. This exacerbates existing risks and will bring new challenges for different regions in the state, threatening the efficacy of traditional intervention strategies. Current thresholds for heat alerts are based on temperatures that exceed historical statistical thresholds, rather than temperatures that cause public health impacts. These ‘health-neutral’ thresholds may underestimate the health risks for the most sensitive populations. The new California Heat Assessment Tool (CHAT) is based on research that establishes local, health-based thresholds for extreme heat that help public officials, health professionals and residents understand what changing conditions mean for them. CHAT is part of California’s Fourth Climate Change Assessment, a state-mandated research program to assess climate change impacts in California, and was developed by Four Twenty Seven, Argos Analytics, the Public Health Institute and Habitat 7 with technical support from the California Department of Public Health.

Explore CHAT at cal-heat.org.  This online tool advances the understanding of what types of heat waves pose public health risks and examines how the frequency and severity of local heat waves are expected to change over time due to climate change.

Read a brief report, The California Heat Assessment Tool: Planning for the Health Impacts of Extreme Heat, that shares key findings from the research and summarizes the data analysis visualized in the tool.

Access the technical report detailing technical methodology and view other projects funded by the California Fourth Climate Change Assessment.

Access the users needs assessment for a detailed explanation of the literature review and interview process that defines the data gap the research team addressed.

Download the full press release.

Key Takeaways

  • Current climate change projections show that a typical California summer in 2100 may be 4-5° F warmer than today. Heat waves are also lasting longer, occurring later into the summer season and in areas less accustomed to heat waves.
  • Elderly or very young people, outdoor workers and individuals with preexisting health conditions or limited resources are most sensitive to the impacts of extreme heat and may be disproportionately affected. Some of these sensitive, or frontline, populations may experience adverse health impacts at temperatures 6-8° F lower than the general population.
  • Current thresholds for heat alerts are based on temperatures that exceed certain statistical thresholds, rather than temperatures that cause public health impacts. These health-neutral thresholds may underestimate the health risks for the most sensitive populations.
  • The online California Heat Assessment Tool (cal-heat.org) allows users to visualize projected changes in heat events that cause adverse health impacts, while also exploring data on social, health and environmental factors that contribute to heat vulnerability.

Responding to Economic Climate Risk in Australia

June 25, 2018 – 427 REPORT. Regulatory pressure and financial damage are necessitating an increase in physical climate risk disclosure in Australia. In exercising their own due diligence and assessing the exposure to physical climate risks in their portfolios, investors arm themselves with valuable information on corporate risk exposure which they can leverage to engage with companies around resilience. This report explores the connection between climate hazards and financial risks and shares examples of corporate adaptation and investor engagement to build resilience.

The global tide of interest in the Task Force on Climate-related Financial Disclosures (TCFD) has hit the shores of Australian financial markets, steered by regulators concerned about the systemic risk climate change poses to the economy. In 2017 Australian Prudential Regulation Authority’s Geoff Summerhayes was the first Australian regulator to formally endorse the TCFD. “Some climate risks are distinctly ‘financial’ in nature. Many of these risks are foreseeable, material and actionable now,” he said. This sentiment was echoed by John Price of the Australian Securities and Investments Commission in 2018 and reflects growing regulatory concern over climate risk disclosure internationally, as shown by Article 173 of France’s Law on Energy Transition and Green Growth and the 2018 European Commission Action Plan.

This Four Twenty Seven Report, Responding to Economic Climate Risk in Australia, explores the drivers of financial risk in Australia and discusses approaches to addressing this risk. The nation’s dominant industries are particularly threatened by the prevalent climate hazards. For investors, understanding a company’s risk to climate change is an essential first step to mitigating portfolio risk, but must be followed by corporate engagement to build resilience. Institutional investors are increasingly leveraging shareholder resolutions and direct engagement to prompt companies to disclose their climate risks and adapt.

Key Findings

  • Australia’s “Angry Summer” of extreme weather in 2013 cost the economy $8 billion and was followed by another summer of extremes in 2016-2017.
  • Construction, mining and manufacturing constitute almost 20 percent of Australia’s economy and are highly vulnerable to heat stress and water stress, which threaten large swaths of the nation.
  • Boral Limited and Rio Tinto are both Materials companies exposed to water and heat stress in their operations, but they have different risk scores stemming from differing vulnerabilities in their markets and supply chains.
  • Engagement on climate is relatively new for Australian shareholders, but is gaining momentum, with institutional asset managers voting on several climate risk disclosure resolutions in 2018.
  • Investors can address physical climate risk by reviewing their asset allocations, disclosing their own risks, investing in new opportunities and engaging with corporations.

Download the report.

Engaging with Corporates to Build Adaptive Capacity

June 5, 2018 – 427 REPORT. Shareholder engagement is a critical tool to build resilience in investment portfolios. Investors can help raise awareness of rising risks from climate change, and encourage companies to invest in responsible corporate adaptation measures. We identify top targets for shareholder engagement on physical climate risks and provide data-driven strategies for choosing companies and approaching engagement. Our report includes sample questions as an entry point for investors’ conversations about climate risk and resilience with corporations.

Shareholder engagement on climate change has grown tremendously in recent years. Over 270 investors, managing almost $30 trillion collectively, have committed to engage with the largest greenhouse gas emitters through the Climate Action 100+. In addition to their ongoing efforts to engage and encourage companies to reduce emissions, investors are becoming aware of the financial risks from extreme weather and climate change. Climate change increases downside risks: a negative repricing of assets is already being seen where climate impacts are most obvious, such as coastal areas of Miami. As climate change can negatively impact company valuations, investors must strive to bolster governance and adaptive capacity to help companies build resilience.

This Four Twenty Seven report, From Risk to Resilience – Engaging with Corporates to Build Adaptive Capacity, explains the value of engagement, for both corporations and investors and describes data and case studies to drive engagement strategies. While news coverage of extreme weather events can clue investors in to which corporations may be experiencing climate-driven financial damage, new data can empower investors to identify systemic climate risk factors and proactively engage companies likely to experience impacts in the future. Reactive engagement strategies based on news stories can also use data to more thoroughly explore corporations highlighted in the news, by examining other hazards that may pose harm to their operations.

The report also identifies the Top 10 companies with the highest exposure to physical climate risk in the Climate Action 100+ and calls for investors to leverage their engagement on emissions to also address urgent issues around climate impacts and building resilience.

Once they identify companies, shareholders can use a variety of questions to gain a deeper understanding of companies’ vulnerability to climate hazards and their governance and planning processes, or adaptive capacity, to build resilience to such impacts. The report provides sample questions for different components of climate risk, including Operations Risk, Market Risk and Supply Chain Risk, as well as Adaptive Capacity.

Key Takeaways

• The impacts of a changing climate pose significant downside risk for companies; a risk bound to increase as the climate continues to degrade.
• At present, investors are likely to become aware of exposure to financial damages from extreme weather events only after they have occurred. Disclosure is limited but gaining traction.
• Corporate engagement is a tool to encourage companies to deploy capital and technical assistance to build resilience in their operations and supply chains.
• Investors can select target companies reactively based on prior incidents or pro-actively identify firms that would benefit from resilience plans.
• Investors should question companies on their exposure to physical climate risks via their operations, supply chain and market, as well as how they are building resilience to these risks through risk management and responsible corporate adaptation strategies.

Download the report.

Download the press release.

Assessing Exposure to Climate Risk in U.S. Municipalities

May 22, 2018 – 427 REPORT. Cities and counties are bearing the costs of the sixteen billion-dollar disasters in the United States in 2017, raising concerns over the resilience of municipalities to the impacts of climate change and associated financial shocks. Credit rating agencies are increasingly integrating physical climate risk into their municipal rating criteria; however, they lack concrete metrics that compare and assess which municipalities are exposed to climate impacts. Four Twenty Seven’s new local climate risk scores provide comparable, forward-looking data to fill this gap. This report discusses our approach to measuring exposure to climate hazards and highlights cities and counties most exposed to the impacts of climate change.

Following Hurricane Harvey, Moody’s downgraded Port Arthur from A1 to A2 due to its “weak liquidity position that is exposed to additional financial obligations from the recent hurricane damage, that are above and beyond the city’s regular scope of operations.” (Moody’s). This follows the recent trend of rating agencies increasingly considering climate change and past extreme weather events in their evaluations of U.S. cities. While this consideration is an important step, their evaluations could be better informed by incorporating forward-looking comparable data on the climate risks that impact these municipalities.

Featuring Four Twenty Seven’s new local level exposure scores, our report Assessing Exposure to Climate Change in U.S. Munis, shares key findings from our scoring of all 3,142 U.S. counties and the 761 cities over 50,000 in population. The research results are based on Four Twenty Seven’s market-leading expertise in five major climate categories, including cyclones/hurricanes, sea level rise, extreme rainfall, heat stress, and water stress. “This new dataset provides a comprehensive suite of risk scores to better inform rating and pricing decisions,” says Emilie Mazzacurati, Founder & CEO. “We believe that our analytics will be very helpful for all market participants, including muni bond investors, local governments, and ratings agencies.”

This report highlights specific cities and counties most exposed to each climate hazard and also discusses regional trends and economic sensitivities that may exacerbate a muni’s vulnerability.  “Climate risk is increasingly a part of our credit analysis for municipal issuers across the country,” said Andrew Teras, senior analyst at Breckinridge Capital Advisors. “The climate risk scores developed by Four Twenty Seven provide a comparable way to evaluate climate exposure and will give us another factor for assessing our investment universe.”

Key Findings

  • Sea Level Rise: The mid-Atlantic, particularly New Jersey, Virginia, North Carolina and Florida, has the highest exposure to coastal flooding in the United States, with the Bay Area and Pacific Northwest also highly exposed in several of their coastal cities and counties.
  • Cyclones/Hurricanes: The majority of cyclone risk in the United States is concentrated in the Southeast, given its geographic proximity to the Gulf of Mexico and the tropical Atlantic Ocean. The coastal Mid-Atlantic and Northeast are also exposed to cyclones, but they tend to be less frequent than in the Southeast and somewhat weaker on average after interacting with land or cooler ocean waters.
  • Extreme Rainfall: The Midwest is particularly exposed to heightened flood risk due to changing rainfall patterns. Recent advancements in attribution science show extreme rainfall to be the main driver of recent floods rather than 20th century agricultural practices, as was largely believed to be the case until recently.
  • Heat Stress: The highest heat stress scores tend to be centered in the Southeast and Midwest, concentrated in Missouri and western Illinois and fanning out to the Great Plains, Mississippi River Basin, and Florida.
  • Water Stress: Key watersheds for agricultural production such as the Central Valley aquifer system in California and the Ogallala Aquifer in the Great Plains are highly exposed to water stress. The agriculturally-dominated areas of Bakersfield, Delano, and Visalia, CA along the Central Valley Aquifer are among the ten cities most exposed to water stress. Similarly, municipalities along the Ogallala Aquifer in the Great Plains also rely heavily on agriculture and are among the most exposed to water stress.

Download the report.

Download the press release.