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Climate Change Pressures Heat Zones Mean Days Over 30 Degrees Celsius RCP45 2040-2069

posted on 2024-06-05, 12:48 authored by U.S. Forest Service

Evaluating multiple signals of climate change across the conterminous United States during three 30-year periods (2010�2039, 2040�2069, 2070�2099) during this century to a baseline period (1980�2009) emphasizes potential changes for growing degree days (GDD), plant hardiness zones (PHZ), and heat zones. These indices were derived using the CCSM4 and GFDL CM3 models under the representative concentration pathways 4.5 and 8.5, respectively, and included in Matthews et al. (2018). Daily temperature was downscaled by Maurer et al. ( at a 1/8 degree grid scale and used to obtain growing degree days, plant hardiness zones, and heat zones. Each of these indices provides unique information about plant health related to changes in climatic conditions that influence establishment, growth, and survival. These data and the calculated changes are provided as 14 individual IMG files for each index to assist with management planning and decision making into the future. For each of the four indices the following are included: two baseline files (1980�2009), three files representing 30-year periods for the scenario CCSM4 under RCP 4.5 along with three files of changes, and three files representing 30-year periods for the scenario GFDL CM3 under RCP 8.5 along with three files of changes.Heat zones map the distribution of potential heat stress for plants and animals, including humans. We define heat zones as the number of days with maximum daily temperature >30 �C (86 �F). Because species have unique adaptations and abilities to tolerate a wide variety of conditions, this metric is used merely as an indicator of change in �hot� conditions. The 30 �C value is set primarily for agricultural production and is a general temperature threshold at which photosynthesis can be negatively impacted for C3 plants (e.g., most species including trees), but it certainly also captures temperatures that induce stress in humans as well. In addition, increases in temperature above these thresholds for longer periods, especially when accompanied with prolonged dry conditions, are linked to reduced performance and likely mortality of trees. Each day surpassing the 30 �C threshold was tallied and summed for each year and reported as the mean number of days, per year, over each 30-year period: baseline, early, mid, and late century.�

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Data contact name


Data contact email


U.S. Forest Service


  • Geospatial

Geographic Coverage


ISO Topic Category

  • environment

National Agricultural Library Thesaurus terms

Forestry, Wildland Management

OMB Bureau Code

  • 005:96 - Forest Service

OMB Program Code

  • 005:059 - Management Activities

Pending citation

  • No

Public Access Level

  • Public