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How will Chicago Weather a Changing Climate?

Join environmental scientists Daniel Horton and Aaron Packman for a lay-friendly exploration of how large cities are responding to extreme weather

Daniel Horton, Earth and planetary sciences

Climate change is no longer a crisis of tomorrow, says Daniel Horton, Earth and planetary sciences.

“The reality is that it has arrived and has already begun to influence societies and our environments,” says Horton, director of Northwestern’s Climate Research Group. “From the creep of sea level rise on ocean coasts, to an increase in the length and intensity of heat waves, to more extreme hydrological events, the fingerprints of climate change are on the recent past.”

Horton and Aaron Packman, civil and environmental engineering and director of Northwestern’s Center for Water Research, will highlight the work of their collaborative multidisciplinary research team of engineers, natural scientists, and social scientists, at this month’s Science Café, October 23, from 6:30 to 8:00 p.m. at the Firehouse Grill, 750 Chicago Ave. in Evanston. The event is open to the public.

Horton and Packman are developing high-impact research objectives to better prepare local residents and infrastructure for projected environmental changes. In particular, they will discuss their efforts involving hazard mapping, green infrastructure, and electric vehicle adoption.

Aaron Packman, civil and environmental engineering

“Chicagoland is particularly vulnerable to urban flooding,” says Horton. “A recent report indicates that the number of Cook County insurance claims in areas outside of flood plains is now equal to the number of claims within the flood plain.”

The data suggest how problematic removing storm water within the city is — and the issue has been exacerbated by an increase in extreme precipitation events over the past few decades.

“For years, climate scientists have been warning of the risks posed by accumulating anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions,” says Horton. “Now that these hazards are recognizable to residents, the research has moved into the realm of solution science.”

For additional information about October’s Science Café event, click here.

By Roger Anderson