Climatic Change

, Volume 141, Issue 2, pp 301–313 | Cite as

Projected 21st century changes in tornado exposure, risk, and disaster potential

  • Stephen M. StraderEmail author
  • Walker S. Ashley
  • Thomas J. Pingel
  • Andrew J. Krmenec


While risk and associated hazard characteristics are important components of disaster formation, the consequences of hazards are often driven by underlying human and built-environment vulnerabilities. Yet, there has been little research conducted on how the evolving contributors of risk and vulnerability commingle to produce disaster potential. In this study, we assess the interaction of risk and vulnerability by investigating a single hazard, the tornado. How future changes in risk and vulnerability influence tornado disaster probability is estimated by integrating, for the first time, projected residential built environment data and modeled future severe weather environments. Results suggest that, although the projected twenty-first century escalation in tornado risk will play a role in increasing disaster consequences and frequency, growth in the human-built environment is projected to outweigh the effects of increased risk on future tornado disaster potential. While changes in societal exposure are projected to overshadow potential climate change-driven alterations in tornado risk, the combination of both an increase in risk and exposure may lead to a threefold increase in median annual tornado impact magnitude and disaster potential from 2010 to 2100.


Convective Available Potential Energy Disaster Potential Impact Magnitude Tornado Event Tornado Risk 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



The authors would like to thank Drs. Jeff Trapp and Kim Hoogewind (University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign) for their suggestions and thoughts on the future tornado risk scenarios. We also thank the anonymous reviewers whose recommendations and feedback greatly strengthened the manuscript.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • Stephen M. Strader
    • 1
    Email author
  • Walker S. Ashley
    • 2
  • Thomas J. Pingel
    • 2
  • Andrew J. Krmenec
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of Geography and the EnvironmentVillanova UniversityVillanovaUSA
  2. 2.Department of GeographyNorthern Illinois UniversityDeKalbUSA

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