Climate Change Risks to Real Estate: Heat, Drought, Fire
Learn how climate change is affecting real estate and properties in California.
Then, check your local risk for heat, storm, fire, drought, and flood through 2050.
Compared to the United States as a whole, people and homes in California will experience especially increased risks from heat, drought, and fire due to climate change over the next 30 years.
The ClimateCheck Risk Rating is a 1-100 score that measures historical risk and increased exposure to risk with climate change for a given property address, compared to everywhere in the U.S. (lower 48 states). A rating of 100 means risk is the highest for the U.S., while 1 means the risk is the lowest of anywhere in the U.S. Even with a risk rating of 1, climate change has both localized and large-scale effects that impact everyone on Earth.
See how we measure risk.
For fire, the bar estimates the middle 50% of buildings and middle 50% of land area. For heat, drought, and storm, the bars represent the middle 50% of the population.
Of the top cities in California, the city with the highest overall risk is Los Angeles. The city with the lowest overall risk is Bakersfield.
For heat, San Francisco has the lowest risk and Fresno has the highest risk.
For storm, Bakersfield has the lowest risk and San Francisco has the highest risk.
For drought, Sacramento has the lowest risk and San Diego has the highest risk.
For fire, Bakersfield has the lowest risk and San Jose has the highest risk.
For flood, Bakersfield has the lowest risk and Sacramento has the highest risk.
Among the lower 48 states, California's highest ranking is #11 for fire risk.
Utah and Kansas rank highest for fire risk District Of Columbia and Rhode Island rank lowest for fire risk See our fire ranking methodology.
California ranks #10 for drought risk.
Highest drought risk: Arizona and Wyoming
Lowest drought risk: Mississippi and Illinois
California ranks #32 for heat risk.
Highest heat risk: Florida and Louisiana
Lowest heat risk: Washington and North Dakota
California ranks #42 for storm risk.
Highest storm risk: New Hampshire and Vermont
Lowest storm risk: Nevada and New Mexico
An extremely hot day in California depends on your location: 105ºF is extremely hot for Bakersfield, while 80ºF is considered extremely hot for San Francisco. This is based on historical maximum temperatures on the top 2% of days in an average year.
The frequency of very hot days is increasing. On average, someone in California will experience about 37 extremely hot days in 2050.
A typical person in the U.S. will experience about 43 extremely hot days in 2050.
Drought risk is based on water stress, which is a projection of how much of the water supply will be taken up by human demand.
In the drought risk map, the blue bars represent the available water every 10 years from 2020-2060, and the orange bars represent demand. The drought risk rating is based on the ratio of supply to demand and the projected change in this ratio. Lower supply and higher demand correspond to a higher score.
Locally, fire risk depends on proximity to vegetation, the types of vegetation and other landcover in the area, and topography. On a given day, fire risk is greatly increased in the presence of a red flag warning, when heat, low humidity, and strong winds converge.
Mitigating climate change in California—by eliminating our emissions into the atmosphere and reducing our strain on the environment—and adapting to our changing planet are both vital to our well-being.
Check your address and get a free report describing risks to your property and in your area.
Explore detailed projections of changing risks for real estate properties throughout California with Cal-Adapt. Your level of risk depends on your city's capacity to adapt. Look up information on your city's characteristics and how they relate to preparedness for climate change: ND-GAIN Urban Adaptation Assessment.
Check our free report for tips on protecting your home from hazards.
Green infrastructure is a category of nature-based solutions increasing precipitation. Find resources for individuals and municipalities through the EPA's Soak Up the Rain initiative.
Planting trees and vegetation helps reduce extreme heat in urban environments. Cool Pavements can also help urban heat islands. Search the Heat Island Community Actions Database to see what some municipalities have been doing to reduce extreme heat risk.
Read more about building resilience for communities: U.S. Climate Resilience Toolkit.
Use the Common Cause tool to find your representatives (federal to local), how to contact them, and information about political contributions and bills they have introduced.
Change is necessary–and possible–across the globe and in every part of our society. Learn more with Project Drawdown's introduction to climate solutions.
Estimate your home's carbon footprint with the CoolClimate Calculator. Or, estimate the carbon footprint of your business.