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

Severe thunderstorm watch issued for Okanagan and Connector

Storms expected to develop this morning and intensify early in the afternoon

Update on South Okanagan-Similkameen national park reserve announced Tuesday

Environment and Climate Change minister Catherine McKenna will join others in Osoyoos

Chilliwack man charged in crash that killed Kelowna pregnant woman

Frank Tessman charged for 2018 Highway 1 accident where Kelowna elementary school teacher died

Police continue to investigate fatal highway crash

Accident between Summerland and Penticton on Tuesday resulted in death of motorcycle rider

Confusion over land ownership of property along Okanagan River Channel

There appears to be some confusion about ownership of two of the properties Coyote Cruises uses

VIDEO: Clip of driver speeding past B.C. school bus alarms MLA

Laurie Throness of Chilliwack-Kent says he will lobby for better safety measures

Former Canucks goalie Roberto Luongo to retire

‘Bobby Lou’ calls it a career after 19 NHL seasons

Massive red treble clef proposed to take over Shuswap

Idea is to pay tribute to artisans in the community

Province unveils 10-year plan to boost mental health, addiction recovery services

The plan, called A Pathway to Hope, focuses on early-intervention services that are seeing high demand

Okanagan Indian Band hosts red dress event today

See Me, Hear Me, Remember Me honours missing and murdered indigenous women

Couple finds opportunities in Shusawp with technology and pastries

Shuswap Immigrant Service Society welcomes Hillary Paganessi and Simone Bardella

98-year-old French spy to recount Second World War story in Okanagan

Marthe Cohn comes to Kelowna to tell her story July 16

Letter: Proposed increase to lease the drop-off point

Proposed increase to lease of Coyote Cruises channel float is the drop-off point

Most Read