Skip to main content

Thank you for visiting You are using a browser version with limited support for CSS. To obtain the best experience, we recommend you use a more up to date browser (or turn off compatibility mode in Internet Explorer). In the meantime, to ensure continued support, we are displaying the site without styles and JavaScript.

  • Article
  • Published:

Climate damages and adaptation potential across diverse sectors of the United States


There is a growing capability to project the impacts and economic effects of climate change across multiple sectors. This information is needed to inform decisions regarding the diversity and magnitude of future climate impacts and explore how mitigation and adaptation actions might affect these risks. Here, we summarize results from sectoral impact models applied within a consistent modelling framework to project how climate change will affect 22 impact sectors of the United States, including effects on human health, infrastructure and agriculture. The results show complex patterns of projected changes across the country, with damages in some sectors (for example, labour, extreme temperature mortality and coastal property) estimated to range in the hundreds of billions of US dollars annually by the end of the century under high emissions. Inclusion of a large number of sectors shows that there are no regions that escape some mix of adverse impacts. Lower emissions, and adaptation in relevant sectors, would result in substantial economic benefits.

This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution

Access options

Buy this article

Prices may be subject to local taxes which are calculated during checkout

Fig. 1: Geographic distribution of select projected climate impacts.
Fig. 2: Annual economic damages from climate change under two mitigation scenarios.
Fig. 3: Projected regional economic effects of global climate mitigation.

Similar content being viewed by others

Data availability

Scenario and projection data used in this project are publicly available at, and Metadata, figures and results have been posted to the Global Change Information System (, and technical documentation for the project is available on the Environmental Protection Agency’s Science Inventory ( Sectoral impact data from the CIRA2.0 modelling project have been posted ( Remaining data and results of this paper are available through the corresponding author on request.


  1. Wuebbles, D. J. et al. (eds) Climate Science Special Report: Fourth National Climate Assessment Volume I (US Global Change Research Program, 2017).

  2. Climate Change: Information on Potential Economic Effects Could Help Guide Federal Efforts to Reduce Fiscal Exposure GAO-17-720 (US Government Accountability Office, 2017).

  3. Fawcett, A., Clarke, L. & Weyant, J. Introduction to EMF 24. Energy J. 35, 1–7 (2013).

    Google Scholar 

  4. Kriegler, E. et al. The role of technology for achieving climate policy objectives: overview of the EMF 27 study on global technology and climate policy strategies. Clim. Change 123, 353–367 (2013).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  5. Fawcett, A. A. et al. Can Paris pledges avert severe climate change? Science 350, 1168–1169 (2015).

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  6. Rogelj, J. et al. Paris Agreement climate proposals need a boost to keep warming well below 2 °C. Nature 534, 631–639 (2016).

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  7. O’Neill, B. C. et al. The benefits of reduced anthropogenic climate change (BRACE): a synthesis. Clim. Change 146, 1–15 (2017).

    Google Scholar 

  8. Climate Change in the United States: Benefits of Global Action EPA 430-R-15-001 (Office of Atmospheric Programs, US Environmental Protection Agency, 2015).

  9. Houser, T. et al. American Climate Prospectus: Economic Risks in the United States (Rhodium Group, 2014).

  10. Hsiang, S. et al. Estimating the economic damage of climate change in the United States. Science 356, 1362–1369 (2017).

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  11. Arnell, N. W. et al. Global-scale climate impact functions: the relationship between climate forcing and impact. Clim. Change 134, 475–487 (2016).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  12. Ciscar, J. C. et al. Climate Impacts in Europe: The JRC PESETA II Project EUR 26586EN (JRC Scientific and Policy Reports, 2014).

  13. Warszawski, K. et al. The inter-sectoral impact model intercomparison project (ISI-MIP): project framework. Proc. Natl Acad. Sci. USA 111, 3228–3232 (2013).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  14. Multi-Model Framework for Quantitative Sectoral Impacts Analysis: A Technical Report for the Fourth National Climate Assessment EPA 430‐R‐17‐001 (US Environmental Protection Agency, 2017).

  15. Blanc, E. & Reilly, J. Approaches to assessing climate change impacts on agriculture: an overview of the debate. Rev. Environ. Econ. Policy 11, 247–257 (2017).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  16. Lobell, D. B. & Asseng, S. Comparing estimates of climate change impacts from process-based and statistical crop models. Environ. Res. Lett. 12, 015001 (2017).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  17. Huber, V. et al. Climate impact research: beyond patchwork. Earth Syst. Dyn. 5, 399–408 (2014).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  18. Taylor, K. E., Stouffer, R. J. & Meehl, G. A. An overview of CMIP5 and the experiment design. Bull. Am. Meteorol. Soc. 93, 485–498 (2012).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  19. Li, J., Mullan, M. & Helgeson, J. Improving the practice of economic analysis of climate change adaptation. J. Benefit-Cost Anal. 5, 445–467 (2014).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  20. Walthall, C. L. et al. Climate Change and Agriculture in the United States: Effects and Adaptation USDA Technical Bulletin 1935 (USDA, 2012).

  21. Report Card for America’s Infrastructure (American Society of Civil Engineers, 2013).

  22. Reidmiller, D. R. et al (eds) Impacts, Risks, and Adaptation in the United States: Fourth National Climate Assessment Volume II (US Global Change Research Program, 2018).

  23. Fawcett. et al. The EMF24 study on U.S. technology and climate policy strategies: introduction to EMF24. Energy J. 35, 1–8 (2014).

    Google Scholar 

  24. Huntington, H. & Smith, E. Strategies for mitigating climate change through energy efficiency: a multi-model perspective. Energy J. 32, 1–260 (2011).

    Google Scholar 

  25. Fann, N. et al. The geographic distribution and economic value of climate change-related ozone health impacts in the United States in 2030. J. Air Waste Manag. Assoc. 65, 570–580 (2015).

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  26. Anenberg, S. C. et al. Impacts of oak pollen on allergic asthma in the United States and potential influence of future climate change. GeoHealth 1, 80–92 (2017).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  27. Mills, D. et al. Climate change impacts on extreme temperature mortality in select metropolitan areas in the United States. Clim. Change 131, 83–95 (2015).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  28. Graff Zivin, J. & Neidell, M. Temperature and the allocation of time: implications for climate change. J. Labor Econ. 32, 1–26 (2014).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  29. Belova, A. et al. Impacts of increasing temperature on the future incidence of West Nile Neuroinvasive Disease in the United States. Am. J. Clim. Change 6, 166–216 (2017).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  30. Chapra, S. C. et al. Climate change impacts on harmful algal blooms in U.S. freshwaters: a screening-level assessment. Environ. Sci. Tech. 51, 8933–8943 (2017).

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  31. Chinowsky, P., Price, J. & Neumann, J. Assessment of climate change adaptation costs for the U.S. road network. Glob. Environ. Change 23, 764–773 (2013).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  32. Wright, L. et al. Estimated effects of climate change on flood vulnerability of U.S. bridges. Mitig. Adapt. Strateg. Glob. Change 17, 939–955 (2012).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  33. Chinowsky, P. et al. Impacts of climate change on operation of the US rail network. Transp. Policy 75, 183–191 (2019).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  34. Melvin, A. M. et al. Climate change damages to Alaska public infrastructure and the economics of proactive adaptation. Proc. Natl Acad. Sci. USA 114, 122–131 (2016).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  35. Price, J. et al. Calibrated methodology for assessing climate change adaptation costs for urban drainage systems. Urban Water J. 13, 331–344 (2014).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  36. Neumann, J. et al. Joint effects of storm surge and sea-level rise on US coasts. Clim. Change 129, 337–349 (2014).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  37. McFarland, J. et al. Impacts of rising air temperatures and emissions mitigation on electricity demand and supply in the United States: a multi-model comparison. Clim. Change 131, 111–125 (2015).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  38. Wobus, C. et al. Modeled changes in 100 year flood risk and asset damages within mapped floodplains of the contiguous United States. Nat. Hazards Earth Syst. Sci. 17, 2199–2211 (2017).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  39. Fant, C. et al. Climate change impacts on US water quality using two models: HAWQS and US Basins. Water 9, 118 (2017).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  40. Boehlert, B. et al. Climate change impacts and greenhouse gas mitigation effects on U.S. water quality. J. Adv. Mod. Earth Syst. 7, 1326–1338 (2016).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  41. Henderson, J. et al. Economic impacts of climate change on water resources in the coterminous United States. Mitig. Adapt. Strateg. Glob. Change 20, 135–157 (2013).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  42. Wobus, C. et al. Projected climate change impacts on winter recreation in the United States. Glob. Environ. Change 45, 1–14 (2017).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  43. Beach, R. et al. Climate change impacts on US agriculture and forestry: benefits of global climate stabilization. Environ. Res. Lett. 10, 095004 (2015).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  44. Lane, D. R. et al. Quantifying and valuing potential climate change impacts on coral reefs in the United States: comparison of two scenarios. PLoS ONE 8, e82579 (2013).

  45. Moore, C. & Griffiths, C. Welfare analysis in a two-stage inverse demand model: an application to harvest changes in the Chesapeake Bay. Empir. Econ. 181, 1–26 (2017).

    Google Scholar 

  46. Lane, D. et al. Climate change impacts on freshwater fish, coral reefs, and related ecosystem services in the United States. Clim. Change 131, 143–157 (2015).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  47. Jones, R. et al. Climate change impacts on freshwater recreational fishing in the United States. Mitig. Adapt. Strateg. Glob. Change 18, 791–758 (2012).

    Google Scholar 

  48. Mills, D. et al. Quantifying and monetizing potential climate change policy impacts on terrestrial ecosystem carbon storage and wildfires in the United States. Clim. Change 131, 163–178 (2014).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  49. Melvin, A. M. et al. Estimating wildfire response costs in Alaska’s changing climate. Clim. Change Lett. 141, 783–795 (2017).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  50. Conklin, D. R. et al. MCFire Model Technical Description Gen. Tech. Rep. PNW-GTR-926 (US Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Pacific Northwest Research Station, 2016).

  51. Multi-Model Framework for Quantitative Sectoral Impacts Analysis: A Technical Report for the Fourth National Climate Assessment EPA 430-R-17-001 (US Environmental Protection Agency, 2017).

  52. Martinich, J. et al. (eds) Special issue on a multi-model framework to achieve consistent evaluation of climate change impacts in the United States. Clim. Change 131, 1–181 (2015).

  53. Martinich, J. et al. Focus on agriculture and forestry benefits of reducing climate change impacts. Environ. Res. Lett. 12, 060301 (2017).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  54. Release of Downscaled CMIP5 Climate Projections (LOCA) and Comparison with Preceding Information (US Bureau of Reclamation et al., 2016);

  55. SNAP: Scenarios Network for Alaska and Arctic Planning (International Arctic Research Center, University of Alaska Fairbanks, 2017);

  56. Pierce, D. W., Cayan, D. R. & Thrasher, B. L. Statistical downscaling using Localized Constructed Analogs (LOCA). J. Hydrometeorol. 15, 2558–2585 (2014).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  57. Collins, M. et al. in Climate Change 2013: The Physical Science Basis (eds Stocker, T. F. et al.) (IPCC, Cambridge Univ. Press, 2013).

  58. Global and Regional Sea Level Rise Scenarios for the United States Technical Report NOS CO-OPS 083 (NOAA Center for Operational Oceanographic Products and Services, National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration, 2017).

  59. Kopp, R. E. et al. Probabilistic 21st and 22nd century sea-level projections at a global network of tide-gauge sites. Earth’s Future 2, 383–406 (2014).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  60. Neumann, J. et al. Joint effects of storm surge and sea-level rise on U.S. coasts. Clim. Change 129, 337–349 (2014).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  61. World Population Prospects: The 2015 Revision (Department of Economic and Social Affairs, Population Division, United Nations, 2015).

  62. Population Estimates Program (US Census Bureau, 2017);

  63. Updates to the Demographic and Spatial Allocation Models to Produce Integrated Climate and Land Use Scenarios (ICLUS) Version 2, EPA/600/R-16/366F (US Environmental Protection Agency, 2016).

  64. O’Neill, B. C. et al. A new scenario framework for climate change research: the concept of shared socioeconomic pathways. Clim. Change 122, 387–400 (2014).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  65. van Vuuren, D. P. et al. A new scenario framework for climate change research: scenario matrix architecture. Clim. Change 122, 373–386 (2014).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  66. Chen, Y.-H. H. et al. The MIT EPPA6 Model: Economic Growth, Energy Use, and Food Consumption Report 278 (MIT Joint Program on the Science and Policy of Global Change, 2015).

  67. Annual Energy Outlook (US Energy Information Administration, 2016).

  68. Rasmussen, D. J. et al. Probability-weighted ensembles of U.S. county-level climate projections for climate risk analysis. J. Appl. Meteorol. Climatol. 55, 2301–2322 (2016).

    Article  Google Scholar 

Download references


The content and views presented in this paper are solely those of the authors, and do not necessarily represent the views of the United States Environmental Protection Agency. We thank the following individuals for their substantial impacts modelling contributions to the CIRA2.0 project: S. Anenberg, C. Barker, R. Beach, A. Belova, V. Bierman Jr, B. Boehlert, Y. Cai, S. Chapra, P. Chinowsky, S. Cohen, P. Dolwick, R. Eisen, X. Espinet, N. Fann, C. Fant, J. Graff-Zivin, S. Gulati, E. Gutmann, M. Hahn, J. Henderson, H. Hosterman, G. Iyer, R. Jones, J. Kim, P. Kinney, P. Larsen, M. Lorie, L. Ludwig, S. Marchenko, D. Mas, J. McFarland, A. Melvin, D. Mills, N. Mizukami, C. Moore, P. Morefield, M. Neidell, J. Neumann, D. Nicolsky, C. Nolte, H. Paerl, J. Price, L. Rennels, H. Roman, M. Sarofim, R. Schultz, E. Small, T. Spero, R. Srinivasan, K. Strzepek, C. Weaver, K. Weinberger, B. Whited, J. Willwerth, C. Wobus and X. Zhang. We thank J. Neumann, J. Willwerth, M. Sarofim, M. Kolian, J. Creason and J. McFarland for technical advice and feedback.

Author information

Authors and Affiliations



J.M. and A.C. developed and coordinated the study, compiled data for this paper, designed figures and tables, and wrote the manuscript.

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Jeremy Martinich.

Ethics declarations

Competing interests

The authors declare no competing interests.

Additional information

Journal peer review information: Nature Climate Change thanks Tobias Geiger and the other anonymous reviewer(s) for their contribution to the peer review of this work.

Publisher’s note: Springer Nature remains neutral with regard to jurisdictional claims in published maps and institutional affiliations.

Supplementary information

Supplementary Information

Supplementary Methods and Discussion 1–3, Supplementary Figures 1–12, Supplementary Tables 1–9 and Supplementary References.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and permissions

About this article

Check for updates. Verify currency and authenticity via CrossMark

Cite this article

Martinich, J., Crimmins, A. Climate damages and adaptation potential across diverse sectors of the United States. Nat. Clim. Chang. 9, 397–404 (2019).

Download citation

  • Received:

  • Accepted:

  • Published:

  • Issue Date:

  • DOI:

This article is cited by


Quick links

Nature Briefing

Sign up for the Nature Briefing newsletter — what matters in science, free to your inbox daily.

Get the most important science stories of the day, free in your inbox. Sign up for Nature Briefing