This is being reported in a way that scares some people But this is not new climate research, and changes nothing about the 2018 IPCC report. It is just a public education paper, helping people to understand the consequences of climate change, and evaluate environmental policies. It could have been written any time in the last decade and would have been essentially the same with minor tweaks.

The amount of warming is far more at high northern latitudes and most of all in the Arctic. For instance London is likely to experience conditions similar to Barcelona at a warming of 2°C, which is no surprise if you are following climate forecasts. The Mayor of London has already factored this into his Environment Strategy aims for 2050, but using Barcelona’s example can help both with planning, and also educating the people of London on the need for building in climate resilience.

Your city planners (if climate aware) will already know this and will be factoring this into their climate resilience measures. It is just a case of a new way of communicating this to the general public. Nothing new about the results.

You can check your city on a map here:

(For some reason many of the cities are shown as white on white, invisible, but if you hover your mouse over the area of your city a note will pop upfor it)

This is another article I'm writing to support people we help in the Facebook Doomsday Debunked group, that find us because they get scared, sometimes to the point of suicide, by such stories. Do share this with your friends if you find it useful, as they may be panicking too.

The city planners can also use this tool to help by learning from other cities, to guide their planning. For instance in 2008 Barcelona had to import €22m of drinking water because of the extreme drought conditions. Since then the municipal government has built in climate resilience with a series of ‘smart initiatives‘ to manage its water including control of park irrigation and water fountains. Since London is likely to have a similar climate by 2050, Londoners can use this example to help with planning for 2050. They put it like this in their conclusion to the paper:

These city analogues, and the data we openly share, can help land managers and city planners to visualize the climate futures of their respective cities, facilitating efforts to establish targeted climate response strategies. As well as facilitating our basic understanding of climate change effects, our analysis highlights the value of using cities to visualize the tangible effects of climate change across the globe.

Their analysis is for RCP 4.5 so the 3°C path we are on at present. It’s not much different from the 2°C path through to 2050, while the 1.5°C path is rather less of a change already by 2050.

A brief summary: by 2050, the climate will be warmer in northern latitudes, dry seasons are drier, wet seasons wetter - most cities shift to a climate someone else already has.

23% of the cities do not change much but 77% of the cities get significant changes.

78% change to climates similar to some other city. 22% shift to climates nobody has in any cities at present. These are mainly tropical cities that get drier in the dry season than any similar city today. Examples include Singapore and Kuala Lumpa.

However, this doesn’t mean that they are drier than a desert region. Singapore or Kuala Lumpa are both very wet and they will remain wet places. They are not going to turn into deserts! Indeed their wet season will likely get wetter than now in its wettest month. However, their dry season will be drier than any city with a similarly wet wet season, which is why there are no analogues close enough to count in their map.

The paper is here

The National geographic article here is a bit scary because it talks about “unprecedented conditions”, but that just means these cities with dry seasons drier than other cities with similarly wet wet seasons:

This gives an overview of their data - the ones shown with big circles change most, the ones with small circles change hardly at all. I’ve changed red to magenta to help red-green colour blind people:

The ones shown in green move to some other city’s climate. The ones coloured magenta do not move to any existing city’s climate, normally because they get drier in the dry season than otherwise similar cities.

This next one shows the shift in latitude for the ones with climate analogues:

The ones coloured blue shift closer to the equator while the ones coloured yellow to red shift away (normally because the summers are drier).

The cities in northern latitudes have the most dramatic shifts in temperatures, for instance in Europe summers get warmer by 3.5°C on average and winters by 4.7°C on average by 2050.

That's the temperature increase in northern latitudes which is more than the global average. In the Arctic it is even more but for the tropics it is less than the global average, also currently in Antarctica it is less than the global average (the cold climate there has a suppressing effect on the confection to the poles

Madrid’s climate in 2050 will be more similar to the current climate in Marrakech than to Madrid’s climate today; London will be more similar to Barcelona, Stockholm to Budapest; Moscow to Sofia; Portland to San Antonio, San Francisco to Lisbon, Tokyo to Changsha, etc

The cities in tropical regions get smaller shifts in temperature, but they get a larger change in rainfall. They have an increase in rain for the wettest month of about 5% and a reduction in rain of 14% in the driest month with more severe and intense droughts. This moves them towards the drier subtropics in their climate.

But 22% of them move to climates no other city experiences today, including include Manaus, Libreville, Kuala Lumpur, Jakarta, Rangoon, and Singapore, with dry seasons drier than expected for such wet locations.

This shows how far they move and which direction - ones close to the equator move away from it and ones further away move towards it on average. But there is a lot of scatter and many hardly move at all. The ones along the 0 line change to cities similar in latitude or don’t change at all, are closest in analogue to themselves in the future.

(again, recoloured red to magenta for colour blind people).

This is an example they give of some of the more striking shifts

(again, recoloured red to magenta for colour blind people).

There the magenta bar is a measure of how different the climates are today. The yellow bar is the difference between the current and future climate of the city being tracked, and the green bar the difference between the future climate of the city tracked, and the one it’s compared with.

The yellow bars in all these examples are less than the red bars so their model seems to somewhat over rather than under estimate the climate changes.

It is RCP 4.5 which is 3°C by 2100. But it is only 2°C by 2050.

The world map is full of variations of some places warm more, some less, some hardly at all.

It's been known about for ages. It is a huge difference between regions. Here is a map from 2007

20°F (dark red) is 12.5°C, 10°F (red) is 6.25°C., 8°F (orange) is 5°C.

Projected climate for 2051-2060, temperature change from 1971-2000 with “middle of the road” emissions. "NOAA Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Laboratory"

“Warming is larger over continents than oceans, and is largest at high latitudes of the Northern Hemisphere. These results are from the GFDL CM2.1 model, but are consistent with a broad consensus of modeling results.”

Patterns of Greenhouse Warming

Notice those bright red projections over northern latitudes. But those places are currently rather cold. The tropical regions which are warmer do not warm up much at all, they mainly get drier in the dry season. Modern maps are not quite the same but they have that general picture of much bigger changes at higher northern latitudes.

Though you don't see it on that map, the south pole also doesn't warm up anything like as much as the north pole. Some parts aren’t warming at all.

This is a more modern map for the changes so far.

Some people get scared by the red most usually used for warming in these maps. So, to make a change, I’ve inverted the colours, in this map green means warmer (appropriate since warming often encourages vegetation). Using different colours also can help pick out features and help with colour blind people:

Or this one that shows red for the regions that have cooled down by a fraction of a degree and light cyan for the ones that warm up:

Or this one ranging from pale green for cooler to dark blue for warmer.

This is the original map where the red may seem scary if you don’t realize it is just colour coding:

From: NASA GISS Surface Temperature Analysis

NOTE - in these maps dark red doesn’t mean it is red hot! It is just colour coding for the relative temperature. In this map then dark red means that it is already 3°C warmer than the reference period on average. These are just averages, for instance the summer warms up more than the winter in most of the northern countries.

This shows the difference between RCP 2.6 which is the 1.5°C path the IPCC recommended in 2018, and RCP 8.5, the 4.9 C path of “business as usual” on the right, based on the 2014 report, the last one to cover RCP 8.5 in detail.

"In the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s 5th Assessment report, scientists outlined four emission scenarios that serve as ballparks for future climate conditions. In this video, two of these scenarios are compared across the globe. The strictest of the four emission scenarios (left) gives an average global temperature increase of 1°C by 2100; the laxest of the four emission scenarios (right) gives an average global temperature increase of 3.7°C. The scenario on the right shows the strongest simulated change for the Arctic, which is predicted to heat by more than 10 degrees. In both scenarios, temperature increases are more pronounced over land than over the oceans, as water doesn’t heat as quickly and works as a balancing (cooling) agent. "

These are the changes through to 2017 in a video. Notice how much more it has changed in the high northern latitudes. The high southern latitudes are not affected in the same way.

Antarctica has resisted this effect, and it has cooled up only slightly, with some parts even cooling slightly in the last half century

That is due to a negative greenhouse effect over Antarctica. For the reasons see this comment.

It is all consistent with the IPCC 2018 summary. This article could have been published at any time in the last decade and it would have been essentially similar. It is just a new way of presenting the data.

That we are getting journalists and readers panicking over what it says about climate - just shows that the education was needed. People didn't understand the abstract numbers but once turned into actual examples of other cities they then begin to understand what they mean.

Hopefully now they understand why e.g. London needs drought mitigation for the 2050s. Also why limiting to 1.5°C is different from 2°C - it means about half of these changes.

The droughts also not so long in the dry season. There is a very significant difference between 1.5 and 2°C.

The northern latitudes are least impacted agriculturally because warming will benefit our agriculture and mean we produce more crops. But in terms of temperature change the change is more in higher latitudes.

In the tropics it leads to drier conditions which is more challenging for agriculture than warmer conditions

Warmer conditions are generally good for crops, the warmer the better, but dry is challenging.

Through to 1.5°C then the world as a whole produces more crops as a result of the warmth. At 2°C then the northern latitudes are still producing more than at 1.5°C but it is stating to get challenging in the tropical regions.

Here is one paper, the results are with CO2 fertilization (that crops grow better with more CO2 in the atmosphere), and the uncertainty range is shown after the figures in square brackets:

Figure from: Differential climate impacts for policy-relevant limits to global warming: the case of 1.5 °C and 2 °C

As you see, the projections show an increase in productivity through to a 1.5 °C rise. But for a 2 °C rise just about all those benefits cancel out and we are actually worse off for some crops than we are today.

Only rice of the four major crops studied, wheat, soy, maize and rice see a major benefit still at 2 °C with a 7% increase, the same as for 1.5 °C. Soy sees a modest 1% increase at 1 °C compared to 7% at 2 °C. Maize sees a major decrease at 2°C by -6% compared to -1% at 1.5 °C. Wheat has a modest increase at 1.5 °C but this is wiped out at 2 °C with a 0% increase.

The changes are far larger on a region by region basis. Some regions have large increases. Northern Europe particularly has large increases for all the crops studied, e.g. for Soy, an increase of 82% at 2°C, and still increasing. That’s middle of the range, it could be much higher, several hundred percent at the 66% confidence level.

North America has modest increases for most of the crops through to 2 °C.

The tropical regions are hit particularly badly as you’d expect in a warming world that is predicted to get hotter than optimal even for traditional tropical crops. They manage fine for rice, not so well for the other three crops.

There is considerable uncertainty in these figures. At 2 °C for instance at the 66% confidence level global productivity of maize could see anything between a 38% decrease and a modest 2% increase, and wheat anything between a 42% decrease or a 14% increase.

This is also not taking account of, for instance, the possibility of eventually opening up currently frozen or otherwise non agricultural regions in Canada or Siberia to crops that used to grow at lower latitudes or of reversing desertification in a major way.

This figure is from: Northward shift of the agricultural climate zone under 21st-century global climate change

The region between the magenta and blue lines is the extra area that could open up to small cereal crops, such as barley and oat, and used to describe the minimal climatic requirements for agriculture. It’s based on Growing degree-days - a calculation involving the amount of the temperature above a base (here 5 C) over the year, where e.g. an average of 8 C for a day would be 3 growing degree days. The lines are for GDD’s above 1200 C per year which is considered feasible for small cereal crops.

More details here

Also wildlife and plants in the colder climates are better able to withstand a few degrees temperature rise because they are already adapted to the change between summer and winter. Some trees at the extreme of the range may die, but many grow over a very wide range of climates, e.g. in Europe and will be fine. It's mainly trees that are the issue because they can't move. Short lived plants and animals and insects can.

It is not a catastrophe for any ecosystem at 1.5°C, and only the corals at 2°C. They don't change to deserts but to something else, sponges for the corals, savannah for parts of the rainforests. E.g. here in Scotland where I live, we'll still have the birches and oaks and ashes and so on. They can survive fine far south of where I live in England so of course they can do fine here, so you can use those examples for wherever you live too.

If the trees you have also grow in the climate analogue country then they should do fine. The ones that don’t may die in the warmer climate and need to be replaced.

In Europe for instance, needle leaf trees are less suitable in a warming climate. Many of the Norway Spruce forests will need to change to grow a less commercially valuable mediterranean oak by 2100 with the warmer climate change scenarios.

This shows the change in composition of needle leaf and broad leaf trees with a 3°C rise (A1B scenario) in a rather old projection from 2013, of forest changes in Europe

They did various case studies, e.g. Netherlands – Veluwe case study

Moderate changes in climate are not expected to lead to major problems or changes in the area. Drier and hotter summers are expected to lead to a decline in oak and beech forests and increased dominance of coniferous species like Scots pine and Douglas >fir.

As an example, this shows the change in composition of the black forest in Germany under climate change with a 3°C rise by 2100 - assuming first it is allowed to convert to natural forest

There is a big change over to replacement of Norway spruce and beech by more drought-tolerant species like Douglas fir. That’s partly because there is a lot of Norway spruce there outside its natural range and it will be very susceptible to insect damage in a warming world.

You can look up the case studies here

That’s for 3°C.

But we have a decent chance of 1.5°C. Which would then be a fair bit less even than these projections he shared. Unless we overshoot but if we go down to zero emissions by 2050 it's going to be a warming but by a fair bit less, maybe half of this.

Humans will be fine at 3°C. But need a lot more adaptation. We can still feed everyone. Meanwhile large areas of Canada / Siberia open up to conventional agriculture in that scenario. Hard to imagine now, but Siberia would be exporting crops in a 3°C warmer world.

China is still okay for humans at 3°C. Even at 4°C it starts to get too hot in the hottest heat waves. But the tropics heat up more slowly than the poles.

At 4°C it is only the hottest places in China for farmers out of doors in the moist paddy fields for 6 hours in the hottest heat waves (it’s harder to deal with hot conditions if it is also moist)

We have a good chance of 1.5°C, China are the key but they are already doing so much with their vast renewables industry, and they have such strong reasons for doing it.

If you get depressed by this, try some positive images. Farmers in your region growing things they couldn't before. Think about things they grow in your climate analogue and can't in your city. It is not quite the same climate no matter how good the analogue, because you also have the day length changes, they can’t have exactly the same temperatures and day length in a warming world - that mainly affects spring plants which may need more sunlight in southern climates and fruit trees, fruit blossom times.

If you are in a tropical city with no climate analogue, then - you will grow the same crops most likely, but need better irrigation in the dry season and flood mitigation in the wet season and better capture of water in the wet season for the dry one. So - lobby your politicians to act on that :).

As an example we have a new grape / wine industry in southern England that's benefiting from global warming.

If you wanted to optimize the world for humans but do it over maybe 2-3 hundred years instead of one century you might deliberately increase the temperature by perhaps a half a degree per century or so. It's the speed that's the issue, at least for a while warming helps and even at 3°C once you take account of the expanding agriculture in high latitudes.

Even at 4°C it is really a better climate for humans, and for many species in nature generally if you can deal with irrigation for dry seasons in the tropics, and if there is time for the slower moving species like trees to move.

Generally things grow better and faster in warmer conditions if you have the right crops for it and you also have the irrigation for it in the cases where it gets drier.

See also my

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