Cities across the U.S. could be an average of eight degrees warmer by 2100. In about 78 years, 247 U.S. cities could feel like an entire part of the country—or the world—found researchers at Climate Central, a non-profit organization that researches climate change.
The independent group of scientists and communicators analyzed the changing climate and how it will affect people’s lives. They found that 16 U.S. cities could see summer temperatures equivalent to the Middle East by 2100. Other cities could see temperatures mirroring locations 437 miles south.
Chicago is expected to warm by 9.1 degrees Fahrenheit, feeling more like Montgomery, Alabama.
New York is expected to warm by 7.6 degrees, and summers are expected to feel more like Columbia, South Carolina.
Houston is forecast to warm by 6.4 degrees, feels like Lahore, Pakistan, while Phoenix could rise 7.2 degrees, feels like Al Mubarraz, Saudi Arabia.
Mitchell, South Dakota, is expected to warm the most — at 11.1 degrees — and it’s expected to feel more like Wichita Falls, Texas.
The hottest average temperatures on summer days were analysed. The researchers did not incorporate humidity, which contributes to how uncomfortable summer heat can feel.
“The Earth is warming because the greenhouse gases we’ve emitted, mainly by burning fossil fuels, are accumulating in our atmosphere and acting as a blanket, trapping heat,” Climate Central spokesperson Peter Girard told CBS News via email. “The blanket gets denser and traps more heat as we add more pollution to it, which is why summer temperatures in cities around the U.S. have been rising. And they will continue to climb until we stop adding more pollution to the heat trap the carpet.”
Extreme heat and longer heat waves can lead to illness or death, says Climate Central. With less cooling at night due to climate change, vulnerable individuals, the elderly, outdoor workers and people with chronic diseases may experience more heat stress.
“The summer heat will affect health. Working outside, playing sports and exercising, or living without air conditioning will not only be uncomfortable, it will be dangerous,” Girard said. “Millions of Americans are already adapting their lives to avoid midday heat, and millions more struggle to stay safely cool. These realities will become more common as summer temperatures rise.”
Extreme heat can lead to higher risk of heatstroke, extreme heat worsens air quality – especially in cities, Girard added
But climate change does not only affect health. Among other things, it can make air quality and pollution worse, lead to more forest fires, floods and rising seas, and worsen allergies, says Climate Central. It can also have an impact on mental health as the warmer climate can lead to more catastrophic weather events, which are physically and psychologically difficult to recover from.
Climate change can also positively affect human health. Climate Central suggests planting trees, which lower carbon dioxide and clean the air, driving an electric car, which reduces emissions and improves air quality; and composting, which also lowers carbon dioxide and improves soil and crop health.
Girard says that as long as pollution builds up in our atmosphere, temperatures will continue to rise. But climate change is more than just excess heat.
“This analysis did not examine other impacts of climate change, but more intense precipitation is another impact that American cities are already seeing,” he said. “Because a warming atmosphere can hold more moisture, many places are experiencing heavier rain — and a higher risk of flooding — than they used to even 50 years ago.”
And for most Americans, winter heating too. “It hurts winter sports and local economies, but warm winters also disrupt the growing season and stress some crops – especially fruit trees – and expand the reach of common allergens, and pests like mosquitoes and ticks,” he said.
Cities across the US and Europe have experienced several heat waves this summer. In July, some American cities saw triple digit temperatures and warnings of elevated fire conditions and heat illness. In the same month, Britain recorded its first temperature above the 40 degree Celsius mark (104 degrees Fahrenheit).
Wednesday, CBS Boston meteorologist and executive weather producer Terry Eliasen said more extreme heat was expected in the area, just over a week after it experienced a seven-day heat wave.
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