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Published May 31, 2023 | Published
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Extreme Weather Risk in a Changing Climate: Enhancing prediction and protecting communities


Extreme weather has devastating impacts on the American people, our communities, and our economy. All of us have seen the damage wrought by catastrophic wildfires in western states, by floods, and tropical cyclones on the Gulf Coast, and by recent severe tornados in southern and eastern states. Extreme weather also reduces property values, raises the costs of insurance, and poses national and global economic risks from supply chain disruptions and forced migrations. Today, climate change is changing the patterns and risks of extreme weather, including the frequency and severity of many hazards. The challenge of hurricanes and other severe storms, floods, and wildfires is gaining significant attention and the annual cost of climate and weather disasters has been rising. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) has catalogued over $1 trillion of damages during the last seven years (2016-2022). Industry reports caution that by mid-century, insurance premiums in certain markets could rise substantially, straining U.S. households. Last year, the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) cited a potential federal revenue loss of $2 trillion per year from climate change at the end of the century, along with additional expenditures of $25 to $128 billion on selected insurance and disaster relief programs. In addition, there are deeper costs from loss of life, negative health impacts, and the destruction of communities. The Census Bureau recently estimated that in 2022 alone, 3.4 million Americans were displaced from their homes by extreme weather disasters. Moreover, lower-income households are often those at greatest risk from floods, storms, and wildfires. These households have fewer resources to take actions that will offset a rising risk of extreme weather. This PCAST report investigates how recent scientific and technical advances could be used to provide more accurate and actionable information to guide decision-making and policy at all levels. PCAST recommends federal actions to better quantify and disseminate current and future risks of extreme weather, including risks of human and financial losses caused by flood, fire, storms, and drought. PCAST also recommends actions to bolster the emerging private ecosystem providing climate risk information. Finally, PCAST recommends the development of a national adaptation plan to assist communities in preparing for and adapting to changing risks from extreme weather events. This report builds on the October 2021 White House report, A Roadmap to Build a Climate-Resilient Economy, outlining a multi-agency plan to implement Executive Order 14030 on climate-related financial risk. That plan addresses both the rising physical risks from extreme weather, and transition risks in moving toward a low-carbon economy. PCAST's recommendations focus on how climate science and computing can provide significantly better information about the physical risks from extreme weather to empower households, communities, and companies and enable smart policy.

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August 20, 2023
October 20, 2023