WASHINGTON – The New York City climate for 60 years could feel like Arkansas now. Chicago may seem like Kansas City, and San Francisco may have a climate in southern California if global warming contamination continues at the current pace, a new study finds.
In 2080, North Carolina's capital, Raleigh, could feel more like the Florida capital, Tallahassee, while the nation's capital will have a more akin climate just north of the Mississippi Delta if the globe remains on the current coal pollution trend. Miami might as well be southern Mexico and the beautiful mornings of the future Des Moines, Iowa, could feel like they're right out of Oklahoma.
It is according to a study Tuesday in the journal Nature Communications that is trying to explain climate change better.
"The kids live today, like my daughter, who is 12, they are going to see a dramatic transformation of the climate. It's already underway," says study director author Matt Fitzpatrick. He is an ecology professor at the University of Maryland Environmental Science Center in Frostburg, Maryland, who will not fully measure up to his name with climate more like today's Southern Kentucky.
But if the world cuts its carbon dioxide emissions, which spike around 2040, New York's climate may be closer to home and feel more like central Maryland, while Chicago's climate may be a bit like Dayton, Ohio.
Fitzpatrick looked at 12 different variables for 540 US and Canadian cities under two climate changes to find out how the future can feel like the way an ordinary person can understand. He averaged the climate result from 27 different computer models and found the city most similar to the futuristic scenario.
He posted the results on the website, allowing people to control how their nearest city could feel: http://shiny.al.umces.edu:3838/futCitiesApp/cityApp/
"Wow," said Northern Illinois University climate scientist Victor Gensini, who was not part of the study. "The science here is not new, but a great way to bring consequences to the local user."
The average 540 cities are moving 528 miles (850 kilometers) to the south, if climate emissions continue to rise. If the world goes down, the cities move on average 319 miles (514 kilometers).
The most moving city is Wasilla, Alaska, which if emissions are not cut can feel like eastern Wisconsin, 11 degrees warmer in summer. It's a change of about 2,720 miles (4,379 miles).
"Visualizations that go on our own lived experiences give a lot of meaning," said Oregon State University climate scientist Kathie Dello, who was not part of the study and does not like what it shows for her region. "Tell people in historically gentle Portland that the climate of the late 21st century is becoming more like the hot Central Valley of California is fighting."
Follow Seth Borenstein on Twitter: @borenbears.
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