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

VIDEO: Driver in bizarre hit-and-run at car dealership in Campbell River turns herself in

Police believe alcohol was a factor in incident causing estimated $15,000 in damages

Horgan heckled as gas prices sit at record high, could go up more

Premier John Horgan blames refiners, not taxes

Home care transition could exacerbate worker shortage: Seniors advocate

Advocate fears impact of eight-hour shift model on an industry under stress

Tofino beckons Trudeau back for Easter vacation

Environmental group hopes latest Pacific Rim vacation inspires change in prime minister

Many teens unaware if they’re vaping nicotine or not

Health Canada survey finds many youth are unaware of the risks of using nicotine products

VIDEO: ‘Alarm bells’ raised by footage allegedly from B.C. pig farm, SPCA says

PETA released video Wednesday showing dead and injured piglets next to nursing piglets

Police charge 27-year-old male in Langford shooting

Justin Lemmen was arrested shortly after the shooting after crashing into a truck

Good Samaritans rescue Sidney senior trapped under mobility scooter

78-year-old broke her pelvis and spent a week in hospital after the accident

‘B.C. cannot wait for action’: Top doctor urges province to decriminalize illicit drugs

Dr. Bonnie Henry says current approach in ‘war on drugs’ has criminalized and stigmatized drug users

B.C. woman, 76, challenges alcohol-screening laws after failing to give breath sample

Norma McLeod was unable to provide a sample because of her medical conditions

New report on 2017 wildfires calls for better coordination with B.C. First Nations

Tsilhqot’in National Government documents 2017 disaster and lists 33 calls to action

B.C. youth coach banned amid sexual harassment, bullying scandal: Water Polo Canada

Justin Mitchell can’t take part in Water Polo Canada events or clubs

Wilson-Raybould: Feds want to just ‘manage the problem’ of Indigenous Peoples

Former federal justice minister speaks at First Nations Justice Council meeting in B.C.

Woman who was chased and tackled after break-in sentenced on Vancouver Island

Natasha Geraldine Harris, 28, was sentenced to time served and will be released from jail

Most Read