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Visualizing a Warmer World: 10 Maps of Climate Vulnerability

The climate disasters that made headlines in 2017 — monster hurricanesdevastating floods and unprecedented drought — will become commonplace in the coming decades as climate change intensifies. Decision-makers from urban planners to corporate executives are grappling with how best to adapt. Should city officials in the Caribbean update building codes to climate-proof infrastructure against storm surges, or move to higher ground? Should farmers in sub-Saharan Africa adopt more efficient irrigation, or switch to climate-resilient seeds?

Getting comprehensive data is the first step in answering these questions. PREPdata, an open-source platform, helps users navigate credible, curated climate, physical and socioeconomic datasets. Users can easily map indicators like sea level rise or precipitation change to assess a specific region’s vulnerability, track datasets on customizable dashboards, and share their stories with adaptation practitioners.

The tool also visualizes how climate change is projected to affect different regions of the world — from crop fields in the Iberian Peninsula to city streets in the southern United States. Here’s a snapshot:

Precipitation and flooding risks are projected to increase across densely populated South Asia.

In 2017, communities across South Asia braved one of the worst monsoon seasons in years. Torrential rains triggered landslides and flooding that killed more than 1,000 people and affected 41 million more in India, Bangladesh and Nepal.

Looking out to 2050 and beyond, it’s clear that cumulative precipitation is expected to rise dramatically throughout the region, likely increasing the frequency and intensity of floods. When pairing these projections with a map of population density, you can see just how many people may be exposed to catastrophic rainfall.

Drought and dry spells threaten agriculture in Morocco and the Iberian Peninsula.

The Iberian Peninsula and its neighbor Morocco depend heavily on rainfall for agriculture, as shown below on a map of cropland by water source. Extended dry periods can drain available water resources to dangerously low levels, shrinking rivers and reservoirs that farmers use to irrigate their crops. Last year, for instance, a historic drought put tens of thousands of Moroccans out of work.

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