NC could feel like Florida or Mex­ico in a gen­er­a­tion, re­searchers say

The Charlotte Observer (Sunday) - - Local - BY CHARLES DUN­CAN cdun­[email protected] Charles Dun­can: 843- 626- 0301, @dun­can­re­port­ing

North Car­olina will likely feel like the Florida Pan­han­dle or pos­si­bly like north­ern Mex­ico within a gen­er­a­tion, ac­cord­ing to a new in­ter­ac­tive cli­mate change map de­vel­oped by re­searchers at the Univer­sity of Mary­land and North Car­olina State Univer­sity.

In a pa­per re­leased with the map, the re­searchers said they mod­eled 540 ur­ban ar­eas in the United States and Canada to show what the cli­mate will be like in 2080 both with and with­out slow­ing down global car­bon emis­sions.

“Within the life­time of chil­dren liv­ing to­day, 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 mil­lenia,” the re­searchers write.

San Fran­cisco could feel like Los An­ge­les, and LA may end up feel­ing like some­where down in Baja, Mex­ico, ac­cord­ing to the pre­dic­tions. Wash­ing­ton DC will most likely feel like the mid­dle of Mis­sis­sippi, the re­searchers found.

If the world is able to slow car­bon emis­sions as laid out in plans like the Paris Agree­ment, Raleigh would feel more like cen­tral Lou­i­si­ana in­stead of Tal­la­has­see, Florida in 60 years.

The pur­pose of the map, the re­searchers write to in­tro­duce the in­ter­ac­tive tool, is “to help the pub­lic un­der­stand how cli­mate change may im­pact the lives of a large por­tion of the pop­u­la­tion of the United States by match­ing the ex­pected fu­ture cli­mate in each city with the cur­rent cli­mate of an­other lo­ca­tion, pro­vid­ing a re­lat­able pic­ture of what is likely in store.”

“While sci­en­tists share great con­cern for the ex­pected se­vere im­pacts of cli­mate change, the same is not nec­es­sar­ily true of the gen­eral pub­lic,” the re­searchers note.

Most peo­ple can’t re­late to a state­ment like “a 3 °C in­crease in mean global tem­per­a­ture,” they ex­plain, so the re­searchers hope the map will help make those tech­ni­cal con­cepts eas­ier for peo­ple to ap­ply to the real word.

“Trans­lat­ing and com­mu­ni­cat­ing these ab­stract pre­dic­tions in terms of present day, lo­cal, and con­crete per­sonal ex­pe­ri­ences may help over­come some bar­ri­ers to pub­lic recog­ni­tion of the risks (and op­por­tu­ni­ties) of cli­mate change,” they write.

The re­searchers, Univer­sity of Mary­land’s Matt Fitzpatrick and Robert Dunn from North Car­olina State Univer­sity, pub­lished their find­ings this month in the jour­nal Na­ture Com­mu­ni­ca­tions. They ex­plain that they used weather data from 1960 to 1990 for their base­line, and av­er­aged ex­ist­ing pre­dic­tions for what cli­mate change could mean with and with­out re­duc­ing car­bon emis­sions.

“By the 2080s, the cli­mate of North Amer­i­can ur­ban ar­eas will feel sub­stan­tially dif­fer­ent, and, in many cases, com­pletely un­like con­tem­po­rary cli­mates found any­where in the west­ern hemi­sphere north of the equa­tor. If emis­sions con­tinue un­abated through­out the 21st cen­tury,the cli­mate of North Amer­i­can ur­ban ar­eas will be­come, on av­er­age, most like the con­tem­po­rary cli­mate of lo­ca­tions about 500 miles away and mainly to the south,” the re­searchers write.

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