Two new tools debuted today that allow US residents to see what hazards climate change might bring to their doorsteps in the future. Each online tool assesses harsh conditions that could potentially affect a property or neighborhood in the coming years — ranging from heatwaves to wildfires, floods, and more.
Nonprofit research organization First Street Foundation announced today that a “Pro” edition of its Risk Factor tool is now available to the public. Before today, users could visit riskfactor.com, type in a specific address, and see ratings on how much risk that property faced from floods, severe heat, and wildfires. Now, users who choose to sign up for a free Risk Factor Pro account can unlock additional perks. These include access to detailed flood, fire, and heat maps. Plus, there are calculators to estimate how much it would cost to repair damage and how long it would take to make those repairs. The tool offers information on risks today, in 15 years, and in 30 years for various events ranging from more typical hazards to unlikely worst-case scenarios.
Harsh conditions that could potentially affect a property or neighborhood in the coming years — ranging from heatwaves to wildfires, floods, and more
After creating an account, individuals can only unlock those “Pro” features for one property for a year. The following year, they can keep the account current for the same property or use it on a different property. To get the same insights on multiple addresses, it costs $100 for each additional property. That’s still a great deal cheaper than commercial accounts, which cost upward of $100,000 a year for companies, such as real estate firms looking for unlimited access. First Street also says it’s working with local governments and communities to help them get the climate risk data they’re looking for, too.
Urban planners can also turn to another tool that debuted today called the Climate Risk and Resilience Portal, or ClimRR for short. The Portal generates maps and reports on temperature, precipitation, and wind for locations within the continental US and Alaska. It allows users to zoom in to 12-square-kilometer areas and see projections for the middle and end of the century, on top of historical averages.
For its forecasts on future conditions, ClimRR uses climate models for two different scenarios: a “pessimistic” scenario with pollution from burning fossil fuels continuing to grow; and an outcome in which those greenhouse gas emissions peak around 2040 before falling. The Department of Energy’s Argonne National Laboratory developed ClimRR with FEMA and AT&T. The telecommunications company commissioned Argonne in the past to assess threats extreme weather poses to its infrastructure. Argonne expects to add data on flooding and wildfire risk to the new tool “in the coming months.”
Americans are already experiencing the effects of climate change, from widespread drought that raises wildfire risk to rising sea levels inundating coastal communities. Tools like ClimRR and Risk Factor might be able to give residents and local policymakers a heads-up as those risks increase. After all, you can only prepare for a threat if you see it coming.