Smog covers midtown Manhattan on July 10, 2007. By 2080, the climate of New York will be similar to that of Arkansas today. (Photo: ADAM ROUNTREE, AP)
“Heading south” will have a whole new meaning in a few decades.
New York City, welcome to Arkansas. Minneapolis, say hello to Kansas. And San Francisco, your new home is L.A.
Because of global warming, hundreds of millions of Americans will have to adapt to dramatically new climates by 2080, a study published Tuesday suggests.
“The children alive today, like my daughter who is 12, they’re going to see a dramatic transformation of climate. It’s already under way,” said study lead author Matt Fitzpatrick of the University of Maryland’s Center for Environmental Science.
By 2080, for example, folks who live in New York City will see a climate similar to that of northern Arkansas today. And people in Minneapolis will live in a climate that’s equivalent to that of southern Kansas today.
On average, city’s climates will move 528 miles to the south if carbon emissions keep soaring at their current levels. If the world cuts back, the cities move on average of 319 miles to the south.
“The climate of many regions is projected to change from the familiar to conditions unlike those experienced in the same place by their parents, grandparents or perhaps any generation in millennia,” Fitzpatrick said.
Even more concerning, “many cities could experience climates with no modern equivalent in North America.”
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Fitzpatrick looked at 540 U.S. and Canadian cities to find out what the future might feel like. He averaged the results from 27 different computer models then found the city that most resembles that futuristic scenario.
Thus, Miami might as well be southern Mexico and the beautiful mornings in future Des Moines, Iowa, could feel like they are straight out of Oklahoma.
Man-made climate change, aka global warming, is caused by the burning of fossil fuels such as gas, coal and oil, which release greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide (CO2) and methane into the atmosphere. The extra carbon emissions cause temperatures of the atmosphere and oceans to rise to levels that can’t be explained by natural causes.
“Under the business-as-usual emissions the average urban dweller is going to have to drive (about 600 miles) to the south to find a climate like that expected in their home city by 2080,” Fitzpatrick said.
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“Wow,” said Northern Illinois University climate scientist Victor Gensini, who wasn’t part of the study. “The science here isn’t new but a great way to bring impacts to the local scale user.”
Fitzpatrick said “similar efforts to communicate climate change often focus on temperature only, but climate is more than just temperature. It also includes the amount precipitation an area receives, when it falls during the year, and how much arrives as snow vs. rain.
“Climate change will lead to not only warming but also will alter precipitation patterns.”
Check out this map and database to see how your climate will change over the next 60 years.
The study was published in the peer-reviewed British journal Nature Communications.
You’ll have to have to drive more than 500 miles to the south to find a climate similar to their home city by 2080. (Photo: Matthew Fitzpatrick/University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science)
Contributing: The Associated Press
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