We’ve all seen the projections: Sea-level rises, hastened by a warming planet, will be nothing short of catastrophic for the world’s coastal communities. Even so, climate change can still be a nebulous concept for those of us who aren’t immediately affected by the havoc rising temperatures can bring, whether it’s longer periods of drought, more powerful storms, or the increased risk of flooding. To see what you have personally at stake, tinker around with Climate Explorer, an online tool developed by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration to help community leaders, business owners, municipal planners, and residents understand how environmental conditions may alter local conditions over the next several decades.
Launched in 2016 as part of the U.S. Climate Resilience Toolkit, the Climate Explorer leverages two global climate model scenarios to predict how heat-trapping gases in Earth’s atmosphere may shape variables such as temperature and precipitation through 2100.
The site is able to serve up observed and modeled data for every county in the United States. Simply enter your zip code for a snapshot of parameters such as the number of days over 95 degrees Fahrenheit and the number of days with heavy rain.
“The Climate Explorer is designed to help users visualize how climate conditions may change over the coming decades,” David Herring, communication and education program manager at NOAA’s Climate Program Office, said when the tool first debuted. “Projections of how much and how fast change is happening is crucial to help communities prepare and become more resilient.”
NOAA’s timing couldn’t be more apt. 2016 marked Earth’s hottest year since modern record-keeping began in 1880. It had the equally dubious honor of being the third consecutive year to set a new record for global average surface temperatures.