High-resolution projections of extreme heat in New York City
Heat waves impact a wide array of human activities, including health, cooling energy demand, and infrastructure. Cities amplify many of these impacts by concentrating large populations and critical infrastructure in relatively small areas. In addition, heat waves are expected to become longer, more intense, and more frequent in North America. Here, we evaluate combined climate and urban surface impacts on localized heat wave metrics throughout the 21st century across two emissions scenarios (RCP4.5 and RCP8.5) for New York City (NYC), which houses the largest urban population in the United States. We account for local biases due to urban surfaces via bias correcting with observed records and urbanized 1-km resolution dynamical downscaling simulations across selected time periods (2045–2049 and 2095–2099). Analysis of statistically downscaled global model output shows underestimation of uncorrected summer daily maximum temperatures, leading to lower heat wave intensity and duration projections. High-resolution dynamical downscaling simulations reveal strong dependency of changes in event duration and intensity on geographical location and urban density. Event intensity changes are expected to be highest closer to the coast, where afternoon sea-breezes have traditionally mitigated summer high temperatures. Meanwhile, event duration anomaly is largest over Manhattan, where the urban canopy is denser and taller.