It has now become possible to move hundreds of miles without packing a single box or paying for a moving van. You can thank climate change.
“Sixty years from now, climate change could transform the East Coast into the Gulf Coast,” The Atlantic’s Robinson Meyer wrote. “It will move Minnesota to Kansas, turn Tulsa into Texas, and hoist Houston into Mexico. Even Oregonians might ooze out of their damp, chilly corner and find themselves carried to the central valley of California.”
These projections are from a creative study by Matthew Fitzpatrick, a professor at the University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science, and Robert R. Dunn, a biology professor at North Carolina State University. “I was shocked, to be honest,” at how southerly many cities would soon feel, Fitzpatrick told Meyer.
The study, published in Nature Communications February 12, looked at 12 variables for 540 U.S. and Canadian cities under two climate change scenarios to find out what the future might feel like in a way a regular person might understand. Fitzpatrick, the lead author, and Dunn averaged the climate results from 27 different computer models and then found the city that most resembles that futuristic scenario.
If you’re not too scared about what you might find, check out how the city nearest you could feel. Their results are at this website: http://shiny.al.umces.edu:3838/futCitiesApp/cityApp/ “Wow. The science here isn’t new, but it’s a great way to bring the impacts to the local-scale user,” Northern Illinois University climate scientist Victor Gensini told Seth Borenstein, AP’s veteran science correspondent.
The 540 cities on average move 528 miles to the south climate-wise, if carbon emissions keep soaring. If the world cuts back, the cities move on average 319 miles.
And while we’re imagining warmer temperatures, many of us eventually may have shorter drives to the beach. Last month researchers reported the startling news that Antarctic glaciers have been melting at an accelerating pace over the past four decades, meaning that sea levels are poised to rise more quickly than predicted.
Due mainly to an influx of warm ocean water, Antarctica is losing six times as much ice as it was four decades ago, an unprecedented pace in the era of modern measurements, according to a study published January 14 in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
“The most striking finding in that study is the assertion that East Antarctica, which contains by far the continent’s most ice — a vast sheet capable of nearly 170 feet of potential sea-level rise — is also experiencing serious melting,” The Washington Post’s Chris Mooney and Brady Dennis wrote.
“It has been known for some time that the West Antarctic and Antarctic Peninsula have been losing mass, but discovering that significant mass loss is also occurring in the East Antarctic is really important because there’s such a large volume of sea-level equivalent contained in those basins,” said Christine Dow, a glacier expert at the University of Waterloo in Canada.
In explaining his report on urban areas, Fitzpatrick cautioned that no city will perfectly match its climate twin, especially when it comes to rainfall. Many cities in the South simply do not have a good twin.
"We're definitely working with a simplification here, and we're ignoring a lot of the important variability and complexity in the climate system," Fitzpatrick told E&E News reporter Chelsea Harvey. "But I think it's a necessary simplification…”
"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 millennia," said Fitzpatrick.
“For instance,” wrote The Atlantic’s Meyer, “the Philadelphia of the 2080s will resemble the historical climate of Memphis. By the time kids today near retirement age, Philadelphia’s average summer will be about 7 degrees Fahrenheit warmer than it is now. Winters in the City of Brotherly Love will be nearly 10 degrees more temperate... Meanwhile, Memphis’s climate will come to resemble that of modern-day College Station, Texas, by 2080.”
If these projections leave you cold, tell those who represent you in Washington to work harder to combat climate change. One way to do so is to tax the main culprit: carbon dioxide emissions.