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New York City Panel on Climate Change 2019 Report Chapter 2: New Methods for Assessing Extreme Temperatures, Heavy Downpours, and Drought


Jorge González

Luis Ortiz

Brianne Smith

Naresh Devineni

Brian Colle

James Booth

Arun Ravindranath

Luis Rivera

Radley Horton

Katie Towey

Yochanan Kushnir

Danielle Manley

Daniel Bader

Cynthia Rosenzweig

+9 more
Publication Type:
Journal Article
Year of Publication:
Secondary Title:
Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences


This New York City Panel on Climate Change (NPCC3) chapter builds on the projections developed by the second New York City Panel on Climate Change (NPCC2) (Horton et al., 2015). It confirms NPCC2 projections as those of record for the City of New York, presents new methodology related to climate extremes, and describes new methods for developing the next generation of climate projections for the New York metropolitan region. These may be used by the City of New York as it continues to develop flexible adaptation pathways to cope with climate change. The main topics of the climate science chapter are:

(1) Comparison of observed temperature and precipitation trends to NPCC2 2015 projections.
(2) New methodology for analysis of historical and future projections of heatwaves, humidity, and cold snaps.
(3) Improved characterization of observed heavy downpours.
(4) Characterization of observed drought using paleoclimate data.
(5) Suggested methods for next-generation climate risk information.

The focus of NPCC3 is on high-risk events involving extreme temperatures, extreme precipitation, and drought. Current trends are presented using historical climate records of high temperature, cold snaps, humidity, and extreme precipitation for the New York metropolitan region. The geographical span of the New York metropolitan region considered here includes, in addition to New York City, adjacent sections of New Jersey such as Newark, Jersey City and Elizabeth, as well as other nearby locations in New York such as Yonkers and Long Island. Historical records of droughts in the Delaware watershed region are also examined. Each climate extreme is analyzed for detection of current trends, and future projections are updated for high-temperature extremes as a test of new methods that could be utilized by NPCC4.

These represent finer temporal and spatial resolutions that may be of practical use to key stakeholders in New York City for planning purposes and/or emergency responses. They include local projections of extreme heat and demonstrate the role of the heterogeneous landscape of the city in each process (e.g., how the urban heat island (UHI) affects city neighborhoods differently). Each section of the chapter presents definitions, baselines, methods, and projections, along with uncertainties and recommendations for future work.