Climate of North American Cities Will Shift Hundreds of Miles in One Generation

At current emissions levels, by 2080 the average North American city will have a climate similar to areas now 500 miles to the south.

The new study and interactive web application aims to help people understand how climate change will impact the lives of people living in cities in the US and Canada.

The application matches the expected future climate in each city with another location with the equivalent current climate, giving people an idea of what might be in store for them. The study found that in some areas by the 2080s will be unlike the climate anywhere in the western hemisphere north of the equator today.

The study mapped climate differences under two emission trajectories: unmitigated and mitigated, using 540 metropolitan areas encompassing approximately 250 million people in the US and Canada. In just one generation, the climate is projected to shift to that of locations hundreds of miles to the south, in some areas, to climates not found in North America.

The paper, “Contemporary climatic analogs for 540 North American urban areas in the late 21st century,” by Matt Fitzpatrick of the University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science and Robert Dunn of North Carolina State University, was published in Nature Communications on February 12.



Image by: Matthew Fitzpatrick/University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science