Climate Science

CCRUN’S cross-cutting climate team provides the cities in the urban Northeast with the latest information on climate change and its potential impacts, and offers recommendations on climate change adaptation and resilience strategies. The climate science team researches a variety of climate hazards including: extreme temperatures and humidity, heavy downpours, droughts, and sea level rise and coastal flooding. This cross-cutting theme addresses communities’ and decision-makers’ need for relevant, useful, and timely climate information, working with regional stakeholders to build resilience to climate change.

Peer-reviewed publications have focused on impacts of, and adaptation to, short duration events. We have advanced understanding of the dangers of humid heat waves The Group has assessed heat impacts on aviation, human health, infrastructure and agriculture. Our researchers have also investigated the relationship between cold air outbreaks and forest pests, and between extreme precipitation and agriculture .  Other applied research topics have included regional sea level rise and coastal flooding projections and review articles on emerging topics such as 1) compound extreme events and their impacts , and 2) science and legal dimensions of climate attribution. 

Current Research:

Stakeholder engagement and research findings have pointed us to two areas for future research. 

Engaging stakeholders in the emerging science of climate attribution:

Stakeholders in Boston and New York City (NYC) have expressed interest in workshops exploring how stakeholders respond to climate attribution (e.g., ‘how much’ of a climate event that occurred is due to historical GHG emissions), rather than the more typical climate trends and projections. Working with CCRUN social scientists, our group will query stakeholders about how their perceptions of risk, responsibility, and the need for risk mitigation measures change when attribution science is presented. Additional workshops will advise NGOs and risk stewards such as financial entities , municipal governments, and insurers about economic and political dimensions that influence the adaptation landscape (e.g., lawsuits focused on failure to adapt, or harm causes by fossil fuel emitters as a way to fund future adaptation).  

Continuing applied research on climate extremes:

Much of this research will support the Integrated Project #1 (Compound Extremes), and associated Compound Extremes work across the RISA network. For example, the Group will assess sequences of extreme events that stakeholders have identified as most impactful, such as heat waves after storms. Another likely applied research topic is how climate extremes and cascading impacts may contribute to migration and managed retreat in the Northeast.

Additional Projects:

  • Town+Gown: Climate Vulnerability, Impact, and Adaptation Analysis (VIA)
  • New York State Climate Impacts Assessment (NYSCIA) Climate Methods and Projections
  • Managed Retreat Conferences 
  • Consolidated Edison Climate Change Vulnerability Study 

Recent Publications: 

Lesk, C., Csala, D., Hasse, R., Sgouridis, S., Levesque, A., Mach, K. J., Horen Greenford, D., Matthews, H. D., & Horton, R. M. (2022). Mitigation and adaptation emissions embedded in the broader climate transition. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences119(47), e2123486119.

Horton, R. M., de Sherbinin, A., Wrathall, D., & Oppenheimer, M. (2021). Assessing human habitability and migration. Science, 372(6548), 1279–1283.

Karmalkar, A. V., & Horton, R. M. (2021). Drivers of exceptional coastal warming in the northeastern United States. Nature Climate Change, 11(10), 854–860.

Key Stakeholders:

  • Consolidated Edison

Team Members: