About Climate Hot Map
It is "unequivocal" that Earth's climate is warming, "as is now evident from observations of increases in global average air and ocean temperatures, widespread melting of snow and ice, and rising global mean sea level."
Furthermore, there is a greater than 90-percent certainty that emissions of heat-trapping gases from human activities have caused "most of the observed increase in globally averaged temperatures since the mid-20th century."
Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, 2007
The Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS) is pleased to offer a new, interactive way to learn about the local consequences of global warming. The Climate Hot Map allows you to travel the world, exploring the places (or "hot spots") where scientists have gathered evidence for climate changes that are already underway and where they are now assessing the risks associated with further warming. This web feature builds upon work originally undertaken by a coalition of nonprofit groups that was first published in 1999. (The original coalition included Environmental Defense Fund, Natural Resources Defense Council, Sierra Club, Union of Concerned Scientists, U.S. Public Interest Research Group, World Resources Institute, and World Wildlife Fund.)
About the Climate Hot Map and the Hot Spots
The purpose of the Climate Hot Map is threefold:
- to share the evidence demonstrating that global warming is already underway and affecting our physical and biological world;
- to emphasize that this is a problem with consequences the world over; and
- to motivate viewers to take action by showing how places they know and love are at risk of irreversible change.
Given these goals, the hot spots were chosen with care, using three basic criteria: scientific robustness, multiple stresses, and presence of multiple impacts.
- Science Evidence. Scientific robustness is the most fundamental criterion in considering a hot spot location. To qualify, robust evidence must be published in peer-reviewed literature that shows impacts have already occurred in the hot spot region, or are projected to occur in the region as current warming trends continue. The latitude and longitude are typically derived from scientific publications that refer to data-collection stations or maps indicating climate-related changes within defined boundaries (e.g., the boundary between areas of intermittent permafrost coverage and full permafrost coverage). In cases where the climate change impacts fall under the People category (see below for more information on Climate Hot Map categories), the latitude and longitude often refer to locations where cultural icons or human infrastructure (e.g., a dam) are vulnerable to harm from regional impacts.
- Multiple Stresses. Climate impacts are not occurring in a vacuum—they are affecting a planet already influenced by an array of human activities. The presence of other stresses in a region suggests that the consequences of a warming world will be exacerbated. One example of "multiple stresses" would be unsustainable extraction—such as overfishing key species, inefficient water use in drought-prone areas, or development that threatens a local species. Another example, the flip side of extraction, is the overabundance of substances that degrade the air, water, or land. Specific examples would be ground-level ozone (smog) that is harmful to plants or humans, toxic chemicals in the soils that inhibit plant growth, and sediment or waste in ocean water that can suffocate coral reefs.
- Climate Change Impacts. A location qualifies as a hot spot if global warming is already having an impact, or is projected to have an impact. The Climate Hot Map groups impacts under five broad categories, which each have several subcategories (see the table below). Thus, for example, a warming world could affect a hot spot by affecting local residents' food supplies (People) and putting coastal homes at risk of damage from rising sea levels (Oceans ).
Climate Hot Map Regions
The global regions used in this web feature are those defined by the Working Group II Fourth Assessment Report (AR4) of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), published in 2007. The AR4 was, at the time, the most comprehensive review available of the global scientific literature on climate impacts. To ensure that the Climate Hot Map is grounded in the best existing information, we used the AR4 as our starting point, and then reviewed additional peer-reviewed papers that were published after the AR4. Using the IPCC's regional breakdown helps ensure consistency between the hot spots and recent scientific literature.
- Africa: Algeria; Angola; Benin; Botswana; Burkina Faso; Burundi; Cameroon; Central African Republic; Chad Congo; Democratic Rep. of Congo; Côte d'Ivoire; Djibouti; Egypt; Equatorial Guinea; Eritrea; Ethiopia; Gabon; Gambia; Ghana; Guinea; Guinea-Bissau Kenya; Lesotho; Liberia; Libya; Madagascar; Malawi; Mali; Mauritania; Morocco; Mozambique; Namibia; Niger; Nigeria; Reunion; Rwanda; Senegal; Sierra Leone; Somalia; South Africa; Sudan; Swaziland; Tanzania; The Gambia; Togo; Tunisia; Uganda; Zambia; Zimbabwe
- Asia: Afghanistan; Bahrain; Bangladesh; Bhutan; Brunei; Darussalam; Cambodia; China; East Timor; India; Indonesia; Islamic Republic of Iran; Iraq; Israel; Japan; Jordan; Kazakhstan; Dem. People's Rep. Korea; Republic of Korea; Kuwait; Kyrgyz Republic; Laos; Lebanon; Malaysia; Mongolia; Myanmar; Nepal; Oman; Pakistan; Papua New Guinea; Philippines; Qatar; Russia - East of the Urals; Saudi Arabia; Singapore; Sri Lanka; Syria; Tajikistan; Thailand; Turkey; Turkmenistan; United Arab Emirates; Uzbekistan; Vietnam; Yemen
- Australia and New Zealand
- Europe: Albania; Andorra; Armenia; Austria; Azerbaijan; Belarus; Belgium; Bosnia and Herzegovina; Bulgaria; Croatia; Czech Republic; Denmark; Estonia; Finland; France Georgia; Germany; Greece; Hungary; Ireland; Italy; Latvia; Liechtenstein; Lithuania; Luxembourg; Macedonia; Republic of Moldova; Monaco; Montenegro; Norway; Poland; Portugal; Romania; Russia - West of the Urals; San Marino; Serbia; Slovak Republic; Slovenia; Spain; Sweden; Switzerland; The Netherlands; Ukraine; United Kingdom; State of Vatican City
- Latin America: Argentina; Belize; Bolivia; Brazil; Chile; Colombia; Costa Rica; Ecuador; El Salvador; French Guiana; Guatemala; Guyana; Honduras; Mexico; Nicaragua; Panama; Paraguay; Peru; Suriname; Uruguay; Venezuela
- North America: Canada; United States of America
- Polar Regions: Antarctic; North of 60°N (including Greenland and Iceland)
- Small Islands and the Ocean: States and non-autonomous small islands (this list is not definitive): Anguilla; Antigua and Barbuda; Aruba; Ascension Island; Bahamas; Barbados; Bermuda; Cape Verde; Christmas Island; Comoros; Cook Islands; Cuba; Cyprus; Dominica; Dominican Republic; Fed. States of Micronesia; Fiji; Grenada; Haiti; Jamaica; Kiribati; La Réunion; Maldives; Malta; Marshall Islands; Mauritius; Nauru Palau; Pitcairn Islands; Saint Kitts and Nevis; Saint Lucia; Saint Vincent & Grenadines; Samoa; Saint Pierre & Miquelon; São Tomé & Príncipe; Seychelles; Solomon Islands; Tonga; Trinidad and Tobago; Tuvalu; Vanuatu
About the Climate Hot Map Team
Dr. Brenda Ekwurzel is the UCS manager for this project. She conceptualized the web feature; ensured the overall quality and integrity of the scientific material; evaluated all the potential hot spots against our criteria; trained the external consultants; and oversaw the peer review process for this product. Also on the project team were UCS staff members Nancy Cole, director of outreach for the Climate and Energy Program, who supervised the consultants; Julie Ringer, Climate and Energy Program assistant, who obtained the photos and graphics used on this site; and Megan Rising, energy outreach coordinator, who synthesized the various solutions pages. Several interns and external consultants researched and drafted the hot spots, including Kristina Dahl, Tomar Hasson, Katie Lake, Laura Kiesel, Kathy Pillsbury, and Kathy Mulvey, to whom we owe special thanks. Shane Jordan and Dena Adler thoroughly checked references and links. UCS Web Manager Colleen MacDonald made all the technical and scientific pieces work together. We relied upon copy editors Bryan Wadsworth, Heather Tuttle, and Liz Page at UCS and consultant, Sandra Hackman to make the scientific information accessible to the general public. Appreciation goes to the scientists who generously reviewed sections of this site that feature their research to help ensure accuracy: Wenju Cai (Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization (CSIRO), Australia); Martin Edwards (Sir Alister Hardy Foundation for Ocean Science (SAHFOS), United Kingdom); Matthew Huber (Purdue University, United States); Jaime Ricardo Cantera Kintz (Universidad del Valle, Colombia); Victoria Lichtschein (R21 Scientific Advisory Board); Scott Power (Bureau of Meteorology Research Center, Australia); and Mathias Vuille (University at Albany, State University of New York, United States).
Mixit Productions designed and developed the website and interactive map.