Climate change is already having substantial effects on natural systems and the benefits they provide. It is important to understand and consider how climate change may intensify through this century in order to prepare for future changes. This application features three metrics that influence plant growth and survival: growing degree days, plant hardiness zones, and heat zones. It displays mapped projections of change throughout the century for the conterminous United States. Each pair of maps presented here compares recent conditions (1980-2009) to potential conditions under a scenario of high greenhouse gas emissions at the end of the century (RCP 8.5; high level of emissions over the next several decades).
For each metric, links are provided to additional online maps that provide a visual contrast between two scenarios of potential change (RCPs 4.5 and 8.5), and four different time periods. These scenarios emphasize the variation of possible climate outcomes as a result of human decisions driving emission trajectories through this century. .
The storymap was created by Stephen Matthews, Louis Iverson, Matthew Peters, and Anantha Prasad, USDA FS OSC, USDA Northern Forests Climate Hub, and Northern Institute of Applied Climate Science
Please cite this story map as: USDA Office of Sustainability and Climate (2018). Climate Change Pressures in the 21st Century. Retrieved from https://usfs.maps.arcgis.com/apps/MapSeries/index.html?appid=96088b1c086a4b39b3a75d0fd97a4c40.
More information on the methods used to develop these maps is available in the report Assessing potential climate change pressures across the conterminous United States: mapping plant hardiness zones, heat zones, growing degree days, and cumulative drought severity throughout this century by Stephen Matthews, Louis Iverson, Matthew Peters, and Anantha Prasad. This dataset is also available for download on the Research Data Archive.
Datasets described in this story map are now available for use in ArcGIS: