Observed Changes in the Frequency, Intensity, and Spatial Patterns of Nine Natural Hazards in the United States from 2000 to 2019
Summers, J., A. Lamper, C. Mcmillion, AND L. Harwell. Observed Changes in the Frequency, Intensity, and Spatial Patterns of Nine Natural Hazards in the United States from 2000 to 2019. Sustainability. MDPI, Basel, Switzerland, 14(7):4158, (2022). https://doi.org/10.3390/su14074158
Address the changes in 9 natural hazards from 2000-2019 and examine their potential relationship to climate change
There is increasing evidence from across the globe that climate change results in changes in the frequency, location, and impact of natural hazards. Much of this evidence is conceptual, inferential, or simply assumed. To provide objective support to confirm these hypotheses, we constructed county-level time-series datasets (2000–2019) for nine natural hazards for the entire United States. Hazards considered for this study included hurricanes, tropical storms, landslides, wildfires, earthquakes, drought, inland flooding, coastal flooding, and tornadoes. Geospatial analysis techniques were used to calculate the percentage (range: 0–100) of land area in each county exposed to each natural hazard for all the years that hazard data were available. The best available data were acquired from publicly accessible sources. Cumulative distribution functions were calculated for each hazard in five-year intervals to test for statistically significant changes in distribution patterns across the five-year time periods using the Kolmogorov–Smirnov test. There were significant changes in hurricanes, tropical storms, and drought over the two decades; changes in tornadoes, landslides, and wildfires were not significant in terms of frequency, likely due to the site-specific nature of their occurrences. The intensity and spatial distribution and an emerging hot spot and spatial trend analyses and an emerging hot spot and spatial trend analyses were also completed (except for flooding events and earthquakes due to insufficient data). All datasets provide empirical support for earlier inferences concerning the connections between the hazards and climate change. Analyses showed apparent changes in the frequency and intensity of hurricanes, tropical storms, and drought-related to climate change factors. Internal and coastal flooding also demonstrated these connections, although the length of the dataset did not permit significant testing but shows significant hot spots and trending locations. Tornadoes, landslides, and wildfires showed significant hot spots and trending locations, but the specific locational nature of the data did not show significant changes in frequency. Earthquakes showed no significant changes over the time period.