Wapahani Trail. Source: Wikimedia/ Creative Commons

Short Summary

Indianapolis, often referred to as Indy, is the capital and largest city of the U.S. state of Indiana. According to the 2021 U.S., Indy had a population of approximately 877,000 people, making it the 17th most populous city in the United States. Indianapolis has a rich history dating back to its founding in 1821. It was originally designed as a transportation and trade hub due to its central location in Indiana. The city played a significant role in the expansion of the United States during the 19th century, serving as a major railroad and automotive manufacturing center. The Indy 500, held annually on Memorial Day weekend, is one of the most prestigious motor racing events, making it an iconic part of Indianapolis. The city is also home to the IndyCar Series and has a strong motorsports culture.

Indianapolis is making strides in addressing climate change hazards and social vulnerabilities through initiatives like Thrive Indianapolis. It’s also committed to environmental equity with its urban forestry efforts under Keep Indiana Beautiful. The city faces climate challenges, including air quality, increased heat waves, urban heat islands, and increased precipitation, impacting communities differently. In addition, Indianapolis faces challenges related to regional and national displacement. To mitigate risks, Indianapolis prioritizes tree planting in underserved areas and accessible green space for all, fostering climate resilience and social equity.  Integrating climate change considerations is critical to land management planning and activities.

Tree Species Vulnerability

Species distribution modeling indicates that the evolving climate will alter the suitable habitat available for diverse tree species within the Indianapolis region. A comprehensive examination of the climate change susceptibility of tree species in the Indianapolis region, encompassing their adaptive capabilities and zone suitability under both low (RCP 4.5) and high (RCP 8.5) emissions scenarios, is available in the preliminary draft of the Indianapolis Tree Species Vulnerability Assessment. The results are also summarized in two handouts: one with just climate vulnerability information, and another with ratings for climate, carbon, and health. 

Indy Canal- Indianapolis, Indiana. Source: Wikimedia/Creative Commons
Indianapolis, Indiana. Source: Wikimedia/Creative Commons

Climate Change Impacts

Indiana has experienced a temperature rise exceeding 2.2°F in the past century, as documented by the Great Lakes Integrated Science Assessment+. In response to these changing climate patterns, Indianapolis initiated its inaugural Thrive Indianapolis assessment in 2020 and subsequently developed a range of sustainability guides and climate hazard mitigation plans. Among these plans is the Multi-Hazard Mitigation Plan (2018), which places a strong focus on addressing climate change and its intersection with social vulnerability, particularly concerning health and environmental equity. The Indianapolis region faces several significant climate impacts, including a potential increase in annual temperatures ranging from 5.5°F to as much as 9.7°F. Additionally, there's a projected uptick in the number of hot days, ranging from 31 to 78 under a low-scenario projection and up to 107 under a high-scenario projection (days with temperatures below 90°F). This changing climate is also anticipated to bring about increased precipitation during the winter months and heightened drought conditions during the summer. These climate shifts may exacerbate moisture stress resulting from rising temperatures, creating complex challenges for the region.