The climate crisis is likely to push many Americans into entirely new climate realities, with a new analysis revealing that 16 US cities are likely to have summer temperatures comparable to those of the Middle East by the end of the century.
Heat waves have rocked huge swathes of the United States this summer, putting nearly a third of the population under some sort of heat advisory and pushing temperatures up to 115F (46C) in parts of the Great Plains. Hundreds of heat records have dropped, from Boston, Massachusetts, which reached 100F (37C)in Portland, Oregon, which reached 102F (38.9C) on Tuesday.
But global warming may plunge many places in the United States into the kind of heat extremes previously considered unthinkable, shifting their long-term climates to conditions now common in places further south, or even farther east. foreign.
An analysis of temperature trends by Climate Central found that summer temperatures in 2100 for many cities will more closely resemble conditions further south, 437 miles south on average, with Washington D.C. having summers closer to Austin, Texas’; Boston is becoming more like Philadelphia; and Billings, Montana, resembling El Paso, Texas.
Some US cities could be moved to the type of climate that cities in other countries are currently experiencing, such as Los Angeles becoming more like Tuxpan in Mexico. A select few could embark on an epic climatic journey by the end of the century, with Austin summers becoming like the Dubai of today, Phoenix resembling Saudi Arabia, and Las Vegas resembling Kuwait.
“The real risks will be in heat waves that are now occasional extremes that will start to last longer,” said Peter Girard, spokesperson for Climate Central, a research organization made up of climate scientists and science communicators. “These kind of heat waves will become normal and the dangers will be much more present. There will be people who have never needed air conditioning who will face this. It can quickly go from uncomfortable to dangerous.
The researchers collected temperature data from 1990 to 2020 to establish today’s “normal” temperature and looked at 20 different projections of temperatures this century under different climate change scenarios. They decided to compare the status quo to a scenario where global warming emissions are not drastically reduced and the global average temperature increases by about 3.6°C by the end of the century.
The world has already warmed by around 1.2°C since pre-industrial times, a situation that has already helped trigger the kind of heat waves and ferocious wildfires recently seen in the United States and Europe. “Extreme heat is a silent killer, but it affects more Americans than any other weather emergency, especially our nation’s most vulnerable,” said Gina McCarthy, White House National Climate Advisor.
Many analysts expect temperature rise to be limited to less than 3.6C, due to growing use of renewable energy, but Girard said even lower levels of warming would cause changes in the climatic norms of American cities.
“Regardless of the scenario, it’s going to be a short-term challenge all over the place,” he said. “Reducing emissions will slow the rise in temperature and give governments and cities more time to take action to keep people safe.”