This scary map shows how climate change will transform your city

The central contradiction. Climate change is that it is at the same time the most epic problem that our species has faced, however, it is largely invisible to the average human being. From the comfort of your home, you may not realize how climate change is already affecting mental health, or destroying ecosystems, or how cities like Los Angeles are taking drastic measures to prepare for water shortages.

The challenge for scientists, then, is to warn about something that is difficult to conceptualize. But a new interactive map is perhaps one of the best visualizations of how climate change will transform the United States. Click on your city, and the map will point to a modern badog city that matches your climate in 2080. New York City will feel more like the current Jonesboro, Arkansas; the Bay Area more like LA; and LA more like the tip of Baja California. If this does not put into perspective the serious threat of climate change for you, I'm not sure what it will do.

Matt Fitzpatrick / Center for Environmental Sciences at the University of Maryland

The data behind is nothing new, but is easy for the public to use. repackaged From these data, known as climatic-badogous mapping, it represents a change in the way science reaches the public. "The idea is to translate global forecasts into something that is less remote, less abstract, more psychologically local and relevant," says University of Maryland ecologist Matt Fitzpatrick, lead author of a new article in Communications of nature Describing the system

Fitzpatrick observed 540 urban areas in North America using three main data sets. One captured the current climatic conditions (an average of the years between 1960 and 1990), the second contained projections of future climates and the third provided historical climatic variability from year to year taken from the NOAA meteorological records. (Depending on the city, the climate may be more "stable" or oscillate more violently over the years). The researchers considered temperature and precipitation in particular, although, of course, these are not the only two variables when modeling the climate. in a little bit.

Matt Fitzpatrick / Center for Environmental Sciences at the University of Maryland

If you click around the interactive map, you will notice some trends in a scenario where emissions continue to rise for 60 years. "Many cities on the east coast are going to look more like places in the southwest, on average about 500 miles away," says Fitzpatrick. On the west coast, cities are generally seen as places directly south of them. Portland, for example, in 2080 will feel more like the Central Valley of California, which is generally warmer and drier. In addition, the map has an option (on its left side) that uses a different calculation to show how the changes would look if the emissions reached their peak around 2040 and begin to fall.

The implications are shocking, but also potentially useful. "Framing the results in a digestible way for the public sector, to inform policy and for the scientific community, is very difficult," says Kevin Burke, climate scientist at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, who was not involved in the study. "A remarkable result of this work is the potential of cities and their badogue peers to transfer knowledge and coordinate climate adaptation strategies."

Take extreme heat, for example. That's a norm in a place like Phoenix, a city with air conditioning. But in a place like San Francisco, air conditioning is a rarity. If San Francisco ends with a climate like that of Los Angeles in 60 years, that will be a big public health problem. Extreme heat kills easily, as in the deadly heat waves of Europe in 2017.

Another important consideration is water. Many urban areas will dry out, but others may see that their total rainfall remains unchanged. However, rain patterns could change, for example, to all autumn in the winter. "So even though you're getting the same amount, that could have big implications for places that are not used to having a prolonged summer drought, or whatever," says Fitzpatrick.

San Francisco could support learning some water management techniques of its badogue 2080. Climate models predict that in the coming decades, LA will see fewer storms, but more intense ones. So to prepare, the city has started an ambitious program to capture those huge water dumps with a network of cisterns built on medium roads. The rain catchment program reduces its dependence on water that reaches the city from afar.

The Bay Area, which has historically been blessed with more rainwater than its southern neighbor, has not been as progressive. Rich communities have launched sibilant attacks when new water requirements meant that their lawns …gasp-I'm brown again. "Los Angeles is far ahead of the Bay Area in terms of having implemented incentives to get away from the outdoor landscape with more water consumption that we still have in the progressive Bay Area," says Michael Kiparsky, director of Wheeler Water Institute at UC Berkeley, which did not participate in this new work.

Changes in precipitation would have serious implications for agriculture, of course. But something more subtle will also develop: as the climate changes, so will the composition of local ecosystems. Pests like mosquitoes, for example, could explode in your community. Certain species of plants may not be able to handle the sudden change and disappear.

"Humans can adapt to some extent and move, but animals and ecosystems will not be able to do so in that short period of time," says climate scientist at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology, Reto Knutti, who was not involved in the study. "So we are pursuing a risky experiment with the Earth, with partly unknown consequences."

"That's really my biggest concern," says Fitzpatrick. "It is not necessarily the direct changes in climate, it is these indirect impacts on natural and agricultural systems given the magnitude and rate of these changes."

Even more frightening, some of the North American cities that Fitzpatrick explored will not have a modern equivalent in 2080. That is, they can not be compared to a climate we see today. What makes the reaction to the threat even more difficult: the Bay Area can anticipate feeling more like Los Angeles in 60 years and adapt accordingly, but if you do not have a good idea of ​​what's coming, it's hard to mitigate the threat.

However, to be clear, this badogical technique of climate simplifies things; For example, researchers left out complicated factors such as the urban heat island effect, in which cities absorb more heat than the surrounding rural areas. And this is average climatenot the weather Thus, for example, the recent cold wave on the east coast was generated by warmer temperatures in the Atlantic.

"None of that is being captured by these badogs," says Andrew Jarvis, a scientist at CGIAR, an agricultural research institute. "Then, from the perspective of communication, that is one of the dangers of it, it is being simplified too much." And necessarily like this: climate systems are monumentally complex, although little by little scientists are better understanding how our planet at the time of climate change, a map alone can not communicate all that knowledge.

Even so, the idea with this new interactive map is to visualize better, both for ordinary citizens and for those responsible for formulating policies, what has been presented previously as impenetrable data sets. "I hope that, more than anything, it will be a revelation and that more of these discussions will begin so that more planning can be carried out," says Fitzpatrick.

Climate change is here, and it is already causing havoc. Consider this, then, a road map to help navigate the chaos.

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