Enlarge / For this map, red’s bad. (credit: Hsiang, Kopp, Jina, Rising, et al. (Science, 2017))
One of the challenges of understanding climate change is that both the expected change in temperatures and the effects that will have vary depending on the location.
So Oregon’s climate won’t change in the same way Georgia’s will.

And, even if it did, the impact of those changes will be different, since the two states start off with different climates and economies.
So understanding the regional impact of climate change has been a real challenge.
But it’s a challenge worth tackling since most of the planning for how to deal with climate change will have to occur at the regional level (especially in the US). Now, a group of researchers has built a model that tracks many of the economic outcomes of climate change, and it does so for every single county in the US’ contiguous 48 states.

The results show that the overall impact on the country as a whole will happen near the end of this century.

But the model also shows that problems won’t be evenly distributed, and the poorest counties are likely to bear the brunt of the damage.
Getting empirical
To generate the future temperatures, the researchers worked with the IPCC’s emissions scenarios.

They then used a set of simplified climate models to produce temperature and precipitation estimates for each month at the end of this century.

Each day in that month had some weather variability added in order to make 10 different potential scenarios.

These provide the raw material for estimating economic impacts, along with a range of possible outcomes.
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