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Climate change will make your hometown feel like somewhere else

The impacts of climate change are increasingly evident worldwide, but how will it specifically affect your hometown? 

A new interactive web application from the University of Maryland’s Center for Environmental Science allows users to search 40,581 places and 5,323 metro areas globally to find future climate analogs, comparing expected future climates to current conditions in other locations. 

Hometown climate in the coming years

This tool provides a relatable forecast of what your city’s climate could be like in the coming decades, offering insight into temperature changes and potential scenarios based on emission levels.

For example, to experience the projected 2080 climate of Washington, D.C., you would need to travel to northern Louisiana, where summers are anticipated to be 11.5°F warmer. Similarly, Shanghai’s future climate might resemble that of northern Pakistan by 2080.

Moving towards the equator 

“In 50 years, the northern hemisphere cities to the north are going to become much more like cities to the south. Everything is moving towards the equator in terms of the climate that’s coming for you,” said Matthew Fitzpatrick, an expert in spatial modeling at the University of Maryland. 

“And the closer you get to the equator, there are fewer and fewer good matches for climates in places like Central America, south Florida, and northern Africa. There is no place on Earth representative of what those places will be like in the future.”

Temperature changes in the coming decades 

Fitzpatrick employed climate-analog mapping, a statistical method that matches future climate projections of a location with the current climate of another familiar place, to provide a more tangible understanding of climate change. 

Using recent data from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), the tool illustrates projected temperature changes over 30 years under two different scenarios.

The application provides projections for both high and reduced emissions scenarios, offering results based on several climate forecast models. 

Exploring climate matches for your hometown 

Users can explore the best climate matches for their city under different scenarios and models, and map the similarity between their city’s future climate and current climates elsewhere, based on the average of five forecasts for each emission scenario.

The first scenario assumes very high greenhouse gas emissions, projecting a global temperature increase of around nine degrees F by the end of this century, making the Earth warmer than it likely has been in millions of years. 

The second scenario envisions the effects if nations meet the Paris Climate Accord goals, resulting in about a three degrees F increase by significantly reducing human-caused greenhouse gas emissions.

“I hope that it continues to inform the conversation about climate change. I hope it helps people better understand the magnitude of the impacts and why scientists are so concerned,” Fitzpatrick concluded.

To take a look at the projected future climate of your hometown, the interactive website can be accessed here.

How does global warming impact human health?

Global warming has a profound impact on human health in several ways. Rising temperatures can exacerbate heat-related illnesses, such as heat exhaustion and heatstroke, which can be fatal, particularly for vulnerable populations like the elderly and those with pre-existing health conditions. 

Additionally, warmer climates contribute to the proliferation of vector-borne diseases, such as malaria and dengue fever, by expanding the habitats of mosquitoes and other vectors. 

Air quality also deteriorates with global warming, as higher temperatures increase the concentration of ground-level ozone and other pollutants, leading to respiratory problems and cardiovascular diseases. 

Extreme weather events, such as hurricanes, floods, and droughts, become more frequent and severe, resulting in injuries, loss of life, and mental health issues. These events also disrupt healthcare services and infrastructure, making it harder to access medical care when it is most needed. 

Furthermore, global warming affects food security by altering agricultural productivity, leading to malnutrition and food borne illnesses. 

The combined stress of these health impacts can strain public health systems, especially in low-resource settings, exacerbating existing health inequalities.


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