Republished with permission from Climate Central
Summers around the world are already warmer than they used to be, and they’re going to get dramatically hotter by century’s end if carbon pollution continues to rise. That problem will be felt most acutely in cities.
The world’s rapidly growing population coupled with the urban heat island effect — which can make cities up to 14°F (7.8°C) warmer than their leafy, rural counterparts — add up to a recipe for dangerous and potentially deadly heat.
Currently, about 54 percent of the world’s population lives in cities, and by 2050 the urban population is expected to grow by 2.5 billion people. As those cities get hotter, weather patterns may shift and make extreme heat even more common. That will in turn threaten public health and the economy.
To illustrate just how hot cities’ future could be and the choices they face, Climate Central created the interactive above in partnership with the World Meteorological Organization. It shows how the average summer high in the future in each of these cities compares to other cities of today. In some cases, the shift puts them in a completely new temperature zone.
Under the high-pollution scenario, currently mild Ottawa, Canada could have the tropical climate of Belize City by 2100. Mountainous Kabul, Afghanistan could feel like coastal Colombo, Sri Lanka. Already hot Cairo, Egypt could feel like its downright sweltering neighbor Abu Dhabi.
The average land temperature is projected to rise 8.6°F (4.8°C), but due to the vagaries of geography, some cities will warm much more. Sofia, Bulgaria has the biggest overall temperature shift, with temperatures rising nearly 15°F (8.4°C) by 2100. That would make its summers more like Port Said, Egypt.
Up to a dozen cities will heat up so much, their summers will have no analog currently on Earth. Khartoum, Sudan’s average summer temperature is projected to skyrocket to 111.4°F (44.1°C) if carbon pollution continues unchecked. That shift underscores that unless carbon pollution is curbed, the planet could be headed toward a state humans have never experienced.
Reducing carbon emissions still means temperatures will rise in cities (and everywhere else). In Khartoum, moderate cuts mean the city’s summer average high is projected to top out at 106.9°F (41.6°C), a high that is still hot (as hot as Riyadh, Saudi Arabia to be exact) but at least of-this-planet hot.
Dealing with less extreme heat makes adaptation easier and less expensive, and given that choice, perhaps it’s no surprise cities are leading the charge on climate change. They face the worst impacts of extreme heat and are home to billions. That’s why thousands of mayors from around the world have banded together and pledged to reduce their emissions. That includes multitudes of US cities committing to meet the Paris Agreement goals after President Trump announced he was pulling the US from the pact, and even more ambitious moves like Oslo’s pledge to nearly zero its emissions by 2030.
WMO and Climate Central are launching a series of climate reports by TV weather presenters from across the world. The first videos are from Barcelona, Madrid and Hanoi. Others will roll out in the coming weeks.
Climate Central's James Bronzan contributed data analysis for this story. Republished with permission from Climate Central
TAKE CLIMATE ACTION TODAY. HERE’S HOW.
Download Climate Reality’s new I Am Still In action kit. On June 1, President Trump announced the US would begin the process of withdrawing from the Paris Agreement. If you want to learn more about what’s next for the climate movement – and how you can get involved – our I Am Still In action kit will give you the tools to make a difference. Download the kit today.
Win a Signed Copy of An Inconvenient Sequel: Truth to Power. The companion book to the film, An Inconvenient Sequel: Truth to Power, covers climate science and teaches you how to make urgent action a necessity at every level of society. Here’s your chance to win a copy signed by former Vice President Al Gore!
Become a Climate Reality Leader. Join us for our next Climate Reality Leadership Corps training and work with Vice President Gore and renowned climate scientists and communicators to learn about what’s happening to our planet and how you can use social media, powerful storytelling, and personal outreach to inspire audiences to take action. Learn more now.
Before You Go
At Climate Reality, we work hard to create high-quality educational content like blogs, e-books, videos, and more to empower people all over the world to fight for climate solutions and stand together to drive the change we need. We are a nonprofit organization that believes there is hope in unity, and that together, we can build a safe, sustainable future.
But we can't do it without your help.
If you enjoyed what you’ve just read and would like to see more, please consider making a generous gift to support our ongoing work to fight climate denial and support solutions.