The Weather of the Future: Heat Waves, Extreme Storms, and Other Scenes from a Climate-Changed Planet - Heidi Cullen (2010)

Appendix 3. The World’s Most Vulnerable Places

On the basis of my discussions with dozens of climate experts, I selected just a few vulnerable places from around the world to showcase the specific regional risks associated with climate change. There are many vulnerable places that I was, of course, unable to discuss. But Mike MacCracken, the chief scientist for Climate Change Programs at the Climate Institute, has assembled an excellent list of the top ten prevailing threats associated with climate change as well as examples of the places that are most vulnerable to these threats.6 The threats are listed, in no specific order, below.

1. Sea, Salt, and Storms

River deltas, bays, and estuaries: Dhaka, Cairo, New Orleans, Sacramento–San Joaquin Delta, Hong Kong, Chesapeake Bay, New York, London.

Low-lying coastal plains: Miami, Charleston, Boston, Long Island, Amsterdam, Venice, Rotterdam, Venice.

Barrier islands: Alaskan villages, North Carolina coast.

Island nations: Fiji, Tahiti, Tuvalu.

2. Acidification

Coral reefs and atolls: Maldives; Great Barrier Reef; American trust territories; Key West, Florida.

3. Water

Mediterranean environments: Sacramento, San Diego; Los Angeles; Atlanta; Las Vegas; Phoenix; Albuquerque; Dakar; Lima, Peru; Quito, Ecuador; La Paz, Bolivia; Sana’a, Yemen.

4. Snowmelt and Runoff

Snow-fed rivers amid forested mountains: Many large cities of India, Pakistan, and China; Portland and the Pacific Northwest; Sacramento–San Joaquin river basin; downstream from the Alps.

5. Fire and Beetles

Arid regions: Western United States, Canada (Alberta, British Columbia); Spain; Portugal.

6. Food and Mass Migration

Agricultural plains: United States Great Plains; Australian coastal regions; Tijuana, Mexico; Lagos, Africa; Nairobi, Kenya.

7. Permafrost Thaw

Seasonal freezing: Fairbanks, Alaska; northern Canada in general; Siberia.

8. Heat

Hot and humid (summer) weather regimes: Texas generally, New York, Chicago, Paris, southern China.

9. Hurricanes and Typhoons

Tropical cyclone paths: New Orleans, New York, Miami, Charleston, Chesapeake Bay, Hong Kong, Tokyo and other cities in Japan, Shanghai, Manila.

10. Dead Zones, Pollution, and Disease

Rio de la Plata/Buenos Aires: hypoxia due to upstream changes in land use and increased severe precipitation events. Mexico City: air pollution.