Temperatures to go off the charts permanently around 2047: study

Oct 10 2013, 14:51 IST
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A new study calculates the probable dates for when cities and ecosystems would regularly experience never-before-seen hotter environments. (AP) A new study calculates the probable dates for when cities and ecosystems would regularly experience never-before-seen hotter environments. (AP)
SummaryEventually, the coldest year in a particular city or region will be hotter than the hottest year in its past.

Starting in about a decade, Kingston, Jamaica, will probably be off-the-charts hot - permanently. Other places will soon follow. Singapore in 2028. Mexico City in 2031. Cairo in 2036. Phoenix and Honolulu in 2043.

And eventually the whole world in 2047.

A new study on global warming pinpoints the probable dates for when cities and ecosystems around the world will regularly experience hotter environments the likes of which they have never seen before.

And for dozens of cities, mostly in the tropics, those dates are a generation or less away.

"This paper is both innovative and sobering," said Oregon State University professor Jane Lubchenco, former head of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, who was not involved in the study.

To arrive at their projections, the researchers used weather observations, computer models and other data to calculate the point at which every year from then on will be warmer than the hottest year ever recorded over the last 150 years.

For example, the world as a whole had its hottest year on record in 2005. The new study, published Wednesday in the journal 'Nature', says that by the year 2047, every year that follows will probably be hotter than that record-setting scorcher.

Eventually, the coldest year in a particular city or region will be hotter than the hottest year in its past.

Study author Camilo Mora and his colleagues said they hope this new way of looking at climate change will spur governments to do something before it is too late.

"Now is the time to act," said another study co-author, Ryan Longman.

Mora, a biological geographer at the University of Hawaii, and colleagues ran simulations from 39 different computer models and looked at hundreds of thousands of species, maps and data points to ask when places will have "an environment like we had never seen before."

The 2047 date for the whole world is based on continually increasing emissions of greenhouse gases from the burning of coal, oil and natural gases. If the world manages to reduce its emissions of carbon dioxide and other gases, that would be pushed to as late as 2069, according to Mora.

But for now, Mora said, the world is rushing toward the 2047 date.

"One can think of this year as a kind of threshold into a hot new world from which one never goes back," said Carnegie Institution climate scientist Chris Field, who was not part of the study. "This is really dramatic."

Mora forecasts that

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