Last year was the fourth hottest record and the hottest year for the world's oceans.
As the planet continues to warm up, experts are working to predict the specific local effects of climate change on US cities.
A new study uses a technique called climate-analogue mapping – which compares the expected future climate of the city with the current climate somewhere else – to show how climate change will affect 540 urban areas in the United States and Canada over the next 60 years.
The results show that by 2080 Los Angeles will feel more like Baha, California, the climate of Tampa Bay will be similar to that of today's Mexico City, and New York will feel like Ozark.
The authors have gathered their data into an interactive tool that allows users to search for their North American city and explore how its future will feel.
Overall, according to the survey, about 250 million people in North America – more than 75% of Americans and 50% of Canadians – will experience changes in their local climate within 60 years.
Read more: We asked 11 climate scientists to live in the US to avoid future natural disasters – that's what they say
"We can use this technique to turn a future forecast into something that we can better conceptualize and relate to our own experience," ecologists Matthew Fitzpatrick, co-author of the University of Maryland study, said in a press release. "I hope people will have this" wow "moment and it sinks for the first time in the scale of the changes we expect in one generation."
Cities and climate change
Warmer temperatures can mean more heat waves, droughts, heavy storms and coastal floods depending on the location of the city.
According to Fitzpatrick and his co-author Robert Dan, an ecology professor at North Carolina State University, urban areas are particularly vulnerable to the impacts of climate change due to large and growing urban populations and their dependence on interconnected and (in some cases) aging infrastructures.
That's why they created the new interactive air-conditioning analogue map – it offers "not so much new models of the future, but rather a means of transmitting existing models in a less abstract or remote way" and more local, experimental and personal, write the authors.
The numbers they use are not new. The study is based on three datasets – one with average weather conditions between 1960 and 1990, another with future climate forecasts and one third based on NOAA weather data that show climate variability over time.
Of course, how hard the changes that will take place in some cities depend on how much greenhouse gas emissions will increase sharply. Thus, the interactive map of the study offers two trajectories: one in which emissions continue to rise in the 21st century, and one in which they peak at around 2040, then begin to decline.
Under the scenario with higher emissions, Portland in 2080 will feel like a warmer and drier California valley in the Central Valley. Washington will have the subtropical climate of northern Mississippi, possibly experiencing shorter winters and longer and wet summers. San Francisco will have to fight extreme heat in Los Angeles, the lack of rain and the associated water shortages.
"Our goal is to do this study and make the app help people understand the dramatic transformation of the global climate we are expecting over the next few decades and that emission reductions can help reduce expectations of climate change "Fitzpatrick told Business. Insider.