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Analyzing Climate Change Impacts, Risks, and Mitigation Benefits for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Climate Change Impacts and Risks Analysis (CIRA) project is focused on estimating the impacts of climate change on human health and welfare to better understand the benefits of mitigating greenhouse gas emissions.

This project involves developing and applying a multi-model framework to evaluate climate impacts across multiple sectors using consistent inputs, such as socioeconomic and climate scenarios. With this framework, EPA generates consistent comparisons of sectoral impacts across time and space.

Abt Associates has been supporting EPA’s CIRA project and related efforts since 2007. Early on, Abt staff assisted EPA in developing models to evaluate impacts to specific sectors. More recently, Abt has been supporting EPA in applying those models and communicating the findings. For example, Abt staff were deeply involved in the analyses that formed the basis of a major EPA report published in 2015, Climate Change in the United States: Benefits of Global Action.

To date, Abt’s analytical support under the CIRA project addressed several key sectors and impact categories, including:

  • Extreme heat- and cold-related mortality;
  • Infrastructure, including bridge vulnerability and adaptation costs;
  • Freshwater recreational fishing;
  • Flooding-related property losses;
  • Water supply and demand;
  • Wildfire response costs;
  • Coral reef degradation and loss;
  • Terrestrial ecosystems and carbon storage; and
  • Labor, such as changes in wages in climate-sensitive sectors.

With a recent task order award in April 2016, Abt will continue its CIRA work conducting evidence-based research in an effort to expand the range of impact categories addressed to include:

  • The morbidity impacts of temperature (e.g., hospitalizations and emergency room visits);
  • New cases of vector-borne diseases focusing on West Nile virus and Lyme disease;
  • Winter recreation;
  • Health effects of extreme weather events beyond  temperature extremes; and
  • Harmful algal blooms.

The new research builds on earlier efforts and applies further rigor to methods and results through the process of submitting and revising manuscripts for publication in peer-reviewed journals.

In addition to developing and applying these models, Abt has been supporting the CIRA project as a whole by preparing the climate change scenario data that is used in each of the CIRA impacts models, including those developed and applied by other organizations on EPA’s behalf.

Read more about the EPA’s Climate Change Impacts and Risks Analysis (CIRA) project:
Climate Change in the United States: Benefits of Global Action

Articles authored by Abt staff in 2015 Special Issue of Climatic Change on “A Multi-Model Framework to Achieve Consistent Evaluation of Climate Change Impacts in the United States,” edited by Jeremy Martinich, John Reilly, Stephanie Waldhoff, Marcus Sarofim, and James McFarland:

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