What is climate resilience?
Extreme weather, such as hurricanes, flooding, and drought appear more often these days. Exacerbated by drought, for example, wildfires have increased, burning millions of acres from California to Australia.
Climate resilience is a way to protect ourselves from the effects of extreme climate events — impacts such as rising sea levels, wildfires, erosion, hurricanes, and extreme heat — that can damage the systems that underpin the economy. To do this, scientists start with smart maps to project climate patterns decades into the future. (Weather describes what happens outside over hours or days, while climate explains this behavior in a certain area over longer time periods.)
You may have seen scientists predict changes in average temperature or rainfall. And some scientists go further and predict weather patterns years from now using powerful computers. We call this climate modeling. Scientists use these 3-D models of the earth’s climate system to create maps showing how climate will evolve into the future, and in ways that could impact communities. But we need more detailed maps.
Why? Because the rates and intensity of climate change depend on which specific location one is in, and more detailed maps will help us learn how the climate may change the environment around each city, town, even single buildings. The weather can change from one zip code to the next and so does climate. The sun may be shining on one side of a mountain while a blizzard hits the other side, and these differences will show up as different intensities of climate change if one is in the mountain west or even a moderately sized city.