In this Feb. 7, 2018, file photo, workers climb atop the roof of the Space Needle, where most of the top is surrounded by a massive work platform, scaffolding and protective covering, as work on a major remodel of the iconic observation tower continues in Seattle.THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP/Elaine Thompson

Look south to discover the future climate of U.S., Canadian cities

Study finds comparisons for future climate of U.S., Canadian cities

Wondering what your city’s climate will be like in a few decades?

Look south — about 1,000 kilometres south, says an unusual new study published Tuesday.

That’s the average distance between 540 cities in the United States and Canada and the nearest city that now has the climate that they could expect, says co-author Matt Fitzpatrick of the University of Maryland’s Center for Environmental Science.

“The basic question we wanted to answer is, what is Toronto or Edmonton going to feel like if some of these forecasts come to pass as we expect them to?” said Fitzpatrick.

Science often presents climate change as numbers — data on average temperatures or rainfall.

“That never resonated with me,” said Fitzpatrick.

“I work with these data all the time, but I’ve no idea of what does that actually mean for the place that I live. How’s my climate going to change?

“This was an attempt to answer that question.”

READ MORE: Climate change causes annual temperatures to rise in Kelowna

Fitzpatrick’s cities represent about 250 million people. That’s more than three-quarters of the U.S. population and more than half of Canada’s.

For each city, he used 27 climate models to determine what its climate is likely to be by 2080. He used both a business-as-usual scenario and one in which emissions are reduced.

He then looked for a community which now has temperature, rainfall and variability most closely matching that future climate.

If nothing changes, he found, Montreal could have the climate of Chester, Penn. Calgary could be like Spearhead, N.D.

Toronto could feel like Secaucus, N.Y.; Winnipeg like Maplewood, Minn., Saint John, N.B., like Riverhead, N.Y.; Vancouver and Victoria like Seattle; Ottawa like South Shore, Ill.; Quebec City like Chatham, Ont., and Edmonton like Mendota Heights, Minn.

Fitzpatrick acknowledges the comparisons are simplistic. For example, they don’t account for extreme weather events, which are expected to be one of the main features of climate change.

“We’re having to ignore complexities of increased frequency and magnitude of extreme events.”

Fitzpatrick added that many of the comparisons are not exactly exact, especially under the business-as-usual scenario.

“For many urban areas,” he writes, ”we found substantial differences between future climate and the best contemporary climatic analog, underscoring that by the 2080s many cities could experience novel climates with no modern equivalent.”

Vancouver was the Canadian city which had the most approximate match. Calgary’s was the most exact.

The approach, which has been used in Europe and in conservation planning, still has powerful communication value, Fitzpatrick said.

It brings home that mitigation makes a difference. Reducing emissions changes Calgary’s climate comparison to Great Falls, Mont. — 665 kilometres northeast from Spearfish.

READ MORE: Harrison Ford knocks Trump, others who ‘denigrate science’

And seeing the distance on a map is a powerful representation of the magnitude of coming changes.

“In general, it hit home to me the dramatic transformation in climate that children living today are going to experience,” Fitzpatrick said.

“By the time I have grandchildren, if they live in the same place I live now, they wouldn’t recognize the climate I live in today. It’s going to be like a story from the past.”

Bob Weber, The Canadian Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

Blues and Blues coming to Lacombe Memorial Centre

Event supports the Lacombe Performing Arts Centre Foundation

OPINION: Jason Kenney won by portraying himself as the Guardian of Alberta

How did Kenney do it? He never considered himself an opposition leader and didn’t pretend to be one.

Lacombe and District Chamber of Commerce hosts 38th annual Spring Trade Show

Show runs April 26th, 27th at the Gary Moe Auto Group Sportsplex

Lacombe Grade 6 students become Mayor for a Day at City Hall

Students took part in a mock City council meeting

Town of Blackfalds holds Multi-Plex Open House

Designs for dual-arena, expanded library shown at public consultation

Homeless activists outside Notre Dame demand ‘a roof too’

Wealthy people have donated millions to effort to rebuild cathedral after devastating fire

Sri Lanka invokes war-time military powers after nearly 300 killed in Easter bombings

Sri Lanka’s minister of tourism says 39 foreign tourists were killed in the Easter Sunday attacks

Trudeau to be portrayed on ‘Simpsons’ episode

Toronto journalist who’s posted videos of himself doing impressions of the PM voiced him for the show

Motorcyclist seriously injured after hit on one-way road in Nisku

Leduc RCMP respond to vehicle versus motorcycle with serious injuries

Bodies of 3 mountain climbers recovered after last week’s Banff avalanche

The men disappeared while attempting to climb the east face of Howse Peak in the Icefields Parkway

Person airlifted to hospital after avalanche in Yoho National Park has died

The man was among a party of three involved in an avalanche Saturday afternoon

QUIZ: How much do you know about Easter?

Take this short quiz and put your knowledge to the test

Global Affairs warns Canadians in Sri Lanka there could be more attacks

A series of bomb blasts killed at least 207 people and injured hundreds more

Parents say Austrian climber missing in Banff National Park ‘lived his dream’

David Lama, Hansjorg Auer and American climber Jess Roskelley have been missing since Wednesday

Most Read