Climate Change Pressures Heat Zones (Map Service)

Metadata Updated: December 3, 2020

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. Original data and associated metadata can be downloaded from this website:

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Public: This dataset is intended for public access and use. License: See this page for license information.

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Metadata Created Date December 3, 2020
Metadata Updated Date December 3, 2020

Metadata Source

Harvested from USDA JSON

Additional Metadata

Resource Type Dataset
Metadata Created Date December 3, 2020
Metadata Updated Date December 3, 2020
Publisher U.S. Forest Service
Unique Identifier Unknown
Data First Published 2019-06-07
Data Last Modified 2020-02-12
Category geospatial
Public Access Level public
Bureau Code 005:96
Metadata Context
Schema Version
Catalog Describedby
Homepage URL
Metadata Type geospatial
Program Code 005:059
Source Datajson Identifier True
Source Hash c579b26f06b9005efdfed52fcd10c79c54b120d5
Source Schema Version 1.1
Spatial -131.362,6.898,-65.638,72.622

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