Environment
10:28 pm
Sun August 10, 2014

Map Shows Cities Their Climate Change Futures

Credit freedigitalphotos.net

By the time the 22nd Century rolls around, summers in Miami will be about six degrees hotter -- as hot as summers already are in south Texas.

That's what we learn from a new interactive map that's showing up on climate-change web sites. Just type in where you live now and the map will lead you to a city that has the same weather now as your city will have in 86 years.

Scientists are great at science, maybe, but not so much at being understood. When they warn of an increase in two or three degrees in the global mean temperature, it doesn’t sound like much. At Climate Central -- a nonprofit organization of scientists and journalists -- they put a map together to help people understand. 

"We tried to connect people with what their city is going to feel like in the future with a city that is already that hot," said Alyson Kenward, a Climate Central researcher.

Type in Miami, with its 88.5-degree average summer high, and the map leads you to Harlingen, Texas, where the 2014 average high is what Miami's will be in 2100 -- 94.9 degrees. Start in Harlingen, and you wind up in Casa Adobes, Arizona, with a 100-degree high. Casa Adobes in 2100, the map tells you, will be like Abu Dhabi, with highs around 109 degrees.

"I think it’s a good tool to make people start thinking about what climate change means for them," said Prof. Ben Kirtman, who studies climate at the University of  Miami. He notes that the Climate Central data assumes nothing is done to stop or slow climate change. He and Kenward agree that even if we stop emitting greenhouse gases right now, a certain amount of warming is already inevitable.

But Kenward says that's no reason to stop trying. "When you compare to how hot summers can be if we continue on the same path, this is so  much hotter."