the effect climate change has on the city you live in

The worlds climate is a difficult concept to model, and until now it has been a challenge to get an accurate picture of how climate change will impact the city you live in. Scientists from the University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science have developed an interactive map detailing top estimates of what the climate will look like over the next 60 years in 540 urban areas in the United States and Canada. Coverage spans to the homes of 250 million North American residents. Some of the findings from this technology known as climate-analog mapping is quite alarming. Cities in the northeast will be more similar to the humid subtropical climates of the Midwest or Southeastern U.S. Western cities are expected to more closely resemble the desert conditions of Southern California and the Southwest.

This information is useful for more than just assessing exposure and communicating the changes. Valuable data can be gathered to predict impacts on our agriculture and natural systems that we currently depend on and help us defend from the current climate crisis. A different climate also supports different forms of life, giving rise to the potential for new problematic organisms such as invasive species or diseases spreading into new territories.

Using 12 measures including minimum/maximum temperature and seasonal rainfall, the map provides two possible futures. The first scenario is one where greenhouse gas emissions continue to rise at current rates. A more optimistic option is also displayed where emissions peak in 2040 and begin to decline, granted we take huge steps forward as a society. At current rates, the average urban resident will need to travel nearly 1000km’s to experience a climate similar to their hometown today. Some of the changes in climate will undoubtedly be so dramatic, the current climate would be unrecognizable. Cities like Los Angeles will feel 5.9˚F/3.3˚C warmer and more than 2000X times wetter than traditional LA summers. Comparatively, the city would feel much like Las Palmas, Mexico today. The most notable changes are expected to be seen on the East coast. New York City will see temperature rises of nearly 10˚F and a climate resembling present day Jonesboro, Arkansas. 

At current emission rates, by 2080:

  • New York is set for a big increase in temperature of 9.1˚F/5˚C while becoming 20% warmer, like Jonesboro, Arkansas
  • Toronto will be 5.2˚F/2.9˚C warmer and 33% wetter, most similar to a summer in Secaucas, New Jersey
  • Washington will feel more like Greenwood, Mississippi, 6.4˚F/3.5˚C warmer
  • Boston summers are going to be 22% wetter and 4.2˚F/2.4˚C warmer
  • Seattle will feel more like Milwaukie with summer temperatures increasing by 5.4˚F/3˚C and 22.5% drier than summers today
  • Vancouver will warm by 4.3˚F/2.4˚C and be 24.4% drier, mirroring todays winters in Seattle, Washington 
  • Chicago will become 30% more dry and 7.2˚F/4˚C warmer, similar to Lansing, Kansas
  • Denver to feel more like Borger, Texas, 7.4˚F/4.1˚C warmer
  • Houston, Texas will be 27.1% wetter and 4.1˚F/2.3˚C warmer
  • Los Angeles will feel 5.9˚F/3.3˚C warmer and more than 2000% wetter than traditional LA summers, much like Las Palmas, Mexico

To view the full interactive climate map developed by Matt C Fitzpatrick and Robert Dunn of the University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science, visit here.

Such dramatic temperature changes, accompanied by precipitation increases is going to spell disaster for many coastal and riverside locations. There will undoubtedly be losses in real estate land, within our generation, like no other time in the history of modern humans. A good start is for us to have the ability to actually see how climate change will impact the city you live in, but the results are always changing, and that means we have the potential to change it for the better. Developments in sustainable energy solutions coupled with government and community support can halt and/or reverse some devastating outcomes. It is going to take the global support and efforts from us all, our politicians and our entrepreneurs. A sustainable world is not only possible, but we are making steps towards achieving this goal. Join the Millennial Online Community for more information on the next generation.

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