Document Type


Publication Title



Public Library of Science

Rights and Access Note

This Item is protected by copyright and/or related rights. You are free to use this Item in any way that is permitted by the copyright and related rights legislation that applies to your use. In addition, no permission is required from the rights-holder(s) for educational uses. For other uses, you need to obtain permission from the rights-holder(s).

Publication Date


Publisher location

San Fransisco, CA, USA

Issue Number


Volume Number


Abstract/ Summary

Better understanding of the changing relationship between human populations and climate is a global research priority. The 20th century in the contiguous United States offers a particularly well-documented example of human demographic expansion during a period of radical socioeconomic and environmental change. One would expect that as human society has been transformed by technology, we would become increasingly decoupled from climate and more dependent on social infrastructure. Here we use spatially-explicit models to evaluate climatic, socio-economic and biophysical correlates of demographic change in the contiguous United States between 1900 and 2000. Climate-correlated variation in population growth has caused the U.S. population to shift its realized climate niche from cool, seasonal climates to warm, aseasonal climates. As a result, the average annual temperature experienced by U.S. citizens between 1920 and 2000 has increased by more than 1.5°C and the temperature seasonality has decreased by 1.1°C during a century when climate change accounted for only a 0.24°C increase in average annual temperature and a 0.15°C decrease in temperature seasonality. Thus, despite advancing technology, climate-correlated demographics continue to be a major feature of contemporary U.S. society. Unfortunately, these demographic patterns are contributing to a substantial warming of the climate niche during a period of rapid environmental warming, making an already bad situation worse.

Citation/Publisher Attribution

Samson, J., Berteaux, D., McGill, Brian, J., & Humphries, M. 2012. Demographic Amplification of Climate Change Experienced by the Contiguous United States Population during the 20th Century. PLOS One 10.1371/journal.pone.0045683, 8 pages.

Publisher Statement

© 2012 Samson et al. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.


DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0045683


publisher's version of the published document

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.



Rights Statement

In Copyright - Educational Use Permitted.