Global warming to scorch past milestone in 2047, study predicts
Every year after 2047 to be hotter than record-setting 2005, scientists predict
The Associated Press Posted: Oct 10, 2013 11:33 AM ET| Last Updated: Oct 10, 2013 2:44 PM ET
Within 35 years, even the lowest monthly dips in temperatures will be hotter than we’ve experienced in the past 150 years, a University of Hawaii-led study predicts.
Within 35 years, even the lowest monthly dips in temperatures will be hotter than we’ve experienced in the past 150 years, a University of Hawaii-led study predicts. (University of Hawaii)
Starting in about a decade, Kingston, Jamaica, will probably be off-the-charts hot — permanently. Other places will soon follow. Singapore in 2028. Mexico City in 2031. Cairo in 2036. Phoenix and Honolulu in 2043.
And eventually the whole world in 2047.
‘One can think of this year as a kind of threshold into a hot new world from which one never goes back.’- Chris Field, Carnegie Institution
A new study on global warming pinpoints the probable dates for when cities and ecosystems around the world will regularly experience hotter environments the likes of which they have never seen before.
And for dozens of cities, mostly in the tropics, those dates are a generation or less away.
“This paper is both innovative and sobering,” said Oregon State University professor Jane Lubchenco, former head of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, who was not involved in the study.
To arrive at their projections, the researchers used weather observations, computer models and other data to calculate the point at which every year from then on will be warmer than the hottest year ever recorded over the last 150 years.
For example, the world as a whole had its hottest year on record in 2005. The new study, published Wednesday in the journal Nature, says that by the year 2047, every year that follows will probably be hotter than that record-setting scorcher.
Coldest years will soon be hotter than hottest year in past
Eventually, the coldest year in a particular city or region will be hotter than the hottest year in its past.
A report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) released Friday says global warming is ‘extremely likely’ caused by humans and that our carbon emissions continue to change the world’s climate. Here’s a look at how photographers around the world this year have documented extremes in climate and their repercussions. In this image, an Arizona firefighter walks away after setting a ‘back burn,’ one method of defence against the wildfires that ravaged the state.
A local man tries to extinguish a wildfire in Caramulo, Portugal, in August. Residents of five nearby villages were forced from their homes, and it took around 1,400 firefighters to stop the massive forest fires.
In Yosemite National Park, a firefighter rests after working to stop a ridge fire that threatened both the park and San Francisco’s drinking water supply this August. Climate change often creates dry air, low humidity and high wind, conditions perfect for wildfires.
Polar bears in Canada’s North continue to be threatened as climate change shrinks their icy territory. Master Cpl. Holly Canning, aboard HMCS Summerside, captured this image of a polar bear prowling an iceberg in Eclipse Sound, Nunavut, in August.
Greenland potato farmer Arnaq Egede looks out over water covered in chunks of ice in July. Climate change has extended the crop season in Greenland, but many of the island’s glaciers are melting.
An ice cave forms in the Pastoruri glacier, one of the fastest receding glaciers in Peru’s Cordillera Blanca mountain range. Over 70 per cent of the world’s tropical glaciers are located in Peru’s Huascaran National Park.
A Rio Tinto alumina refinery and bauxite mine in Gove, Australia, is seen from the sky high above the Australian outback. Much of the region remains undeveloped, but the mining and agriculture industries are pushing to develop the land.
Twin storms slammed both sides of Mexico in September, causing massive flooding and setting off a landslide in the village of La Pintada that killed dozens.
A Chinese farm sits abandoned near the dried up Shiyang River this month. Chinese authorities blamed the river’s death on climate change, though critics say China’s hydroelectric projects are also to blame.
A man struggles to save a woman trapped against her car amid a February flash flood in the Chalandri suburb of Athens. Sudden downpours are among the severe weather conditions driven by climate change.
In June, a massive storm dumped record amounts of rain on southern Alberta, leading to devastating flooding in Calgary and nearby communities. The flood raised questions about how prepared Canadian cities are for climate change.
The Pacific island nation of Kiribati sits just metres above sea level, and could be submerged in coming years if the ocean rises. Kiribati President Anote Tong has predicted his country will likely become uninhabitable in 30-60 years, when sea water contaminates its freshwater supplies.
This July, Kitchener-Waterloo, Ont., was hammered by summer thunderstorms packing violent downbursts, with hurricane-force winds that snapped trees.
A massive twister ripped through Moore, Okla., on May 27, killing over 20 people. While Oklahoma is in America’s ‘tornado alley,’ the three-kilometre-wide EF-5 tornado shocked the state.
A statue of China’s Chairman Mao Zedong stands amid thick smog in Shenyang, Liaoning province. In July, the Chinese government said it plans to spend $236 billion to tackle air pollution in the next five years.
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The study was led by Camilo Mora, a biological geographer at the University of Hawaii who completed his Ph.D. at the University of Windsor. He and his colleagues said they hope this new way of looking at climate change will spur governments to do something before it is too late.
“Now is the time to act,” said another study co-author, Ryan Longman.
Mora and colleagues ran simulations from 39 different computer models and looked at hundreds of thousands of species, maps and data points to ask when places will have “an environment like we had never seen before.”
Reducing emissions could push date back to 2069
The 2047 date for the whole world is based on continually increasing emissions of greenhouse gases from the burning of coal, oil and natural gases. If the world manages to reduce its emissions of carbon dioxide and other gases, that would be pushed to as late as 2069, according to Mora.
The coldest years in the future will soon be hotter than the hottest years of the past. That is expected to happen in subtropical areas, such as Bangladesh, sooner than in temperate areas. (REUTERS)
But for now, Mora said, the world is rushing toward the 2047 date.
“One can think of this year as a kind of threshold into a hot new world from which one never goes back,” said Carnegie Institution climate scientist Chris Field, who was not part of the study. “This is really dramatic.”
Mora forecasts that the unprecedented heat starts in 2020 with Manokwa, Indonesia. Then Kingston, Jamaica. Within the next two decades, 59 cities will be living in what is essentially a new climate, including Singapore, Havana, Kuala Lumpur and Mexico City.
By 2043, 147 cities — more than half of those studied — will have shifted to a hotter temperature regime that is beyond historical records.
The first U.S. cities to feel that would be Honolulu and Phoenix, followed by San Diego and Orlando, Florida. in 2046. New York and Washington will get new climates around 2047, with Los Angeles, Detroit, Houston, Chicago, Seattle, Austin and Dallas a bit later.
Mora calculated that the last of the 265 cities to move into their new climate will be Anchorage, Alaska — in 2071. There’s a five-year margin of error on the estimates.
Unlike previous research, the study highlights the tropics more than the polar regions. In the tropics, temperatures don’t vary much, so a small increase can have large effects on ecosystems, he said. A three-degree change is not much to polar regions but is dramatic in the tropics, which hold most of the Earth’s biodiversity, he said.
Ocean acidity already crossed threshhold
The Mora team found that by one measurement — ocean acidity — Earth has already crossed the threshold into an entirely new regime. That happened in about 2008, with every year since then more acidic than the old record, according to study co-author Abby Frazier.
Of the species studied, coral reefs will be the first stuck in a new climate — around 2030 — and are most vulnerable to climate change, Mora said.
Judith Curry, a Georgia Institute of Technology climate scientist who often clashes with mainstream scientists, said she found Mora’s approach to make more sense than the massive report that came out of the U.N.-sponsored Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change last month.
Pennsylvania State University climate scientist Michael Mann said the research “may actually be presenting an overly rosy scenario when it comes to how close we are to passing the threshold for dangerous climate impacts.”
“By some measures, we are already there,” he said.
© The Associated Press, 2013
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