In this Feb. 7, 2018, file photo, workers climb atop the roof of the Space Needle, where most of the top is surrounded by a massive work platform, scaffolding and protective covering, as work on a major remodel of the iconic observation tower continues in Seattle.THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP/Elaine Thompson

Look south to discover the future climate of U.S., Canadian cities

Study finds comparisons for future climate of U.S., Canadian cities

Wondering what your city’s climate will be like in a few decades?

Look south — about 1,000 kilometres south, says an unusual new study published Tuesday.

That’s the average distance between 540 cities in the United States and Canada and the nearest city that now has the climate that they could expect, says co-author Matt Fitzpatrick of the University of Maryland’s Center for Environmental Science.

“The basic question we wanted to answer is, what is Toronto or Edmonton going to feel like if some of these forecasts come to pass as we expect them to?” said Fitzpatrick.

Science often presents climate change as numbers — data on average temperatures or rainfall.

“That never resonated with me,” said Fitzpatrick.

“I work with these data all the time, but I’ve no idea of what does that actually mean for the place that I live. How’s my climate going to change?

“This was an attempt to answer that question.”

READ MORE: Climate change causes annual temperatures to rise in Kelowna

Fitzpatrick’s cities represent about 250 million people. That’s more than three-quarters of the U.S. population and more than half of Canada’s.

For each city, he used 27 climate models to determine what its climate is likely to be by 2080. He used both a business-as-usual scenario and one in which emissions are reduced.

He then looked for a community which now has temperature, rainfall and variability most closely matching that future climate.

If nothing changes, he found, Montreal could have the climate of Chester, Penn. Calgary could be like Spearhead, N.D.

Toronto could feel like Secaucus, N.Y.; Winnipeg like Maplewood, Minn., Saint John, N.B., like Riverhead, N.Y.; Vancouver and Victoria like Seattle; Ottawa like South Shore, Ill.; Quebec City like Chatham, Ont., and Edmonton like Mendota Heights, Minn.

Fitzpatrick acknowledges the comparisons are simplistic. For example, they don’t account for extreme weather events, which are expected to be one of the main features of climate change.

“We’re having to ignore complexities of increased frequency and magnitude of extreme events.”

Fitzpatrick added that many of the comparisons are not exactly exact, especially under the business-as-usual scenario.

“For many urban areas,” he writes, ”we found substantial differences between future climate and the best contemporary climatic analog, underscoring that by the 2080s many cities could experience novel climates with no modern equivalent.”

Vancouver was the Canadian city which had the most approximate match. Calgary’s was the most exact.

The approach, which has been used in Europe and in conservation planning, still has powerful communication value, Fitzpatrick said.

It brings home that mitigation makes a difference. Reducing emissions changes Calgary’s climate comparison to Great Falls, Mont. — 665 kilometres northeast from Spearfish.

READ MORE: Harrison Ford knocks Trump, others who ‘denigrate science’

And seeing the distance on a map is a powerful representation of the magnitude of coming changes.

“In general, it hit home to me the dramatic transformation in climate that children living today are going to experience,” Fitzpatrick said.

“By the time I have grandchildren, if they live in the same place I live now, they wouldn’t recognize the climate I live in today. It’s going to be like a story from the past.”

Bob Weber, The Canadian Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Boulders near Harrison vandalized with derogatory word

Vandalism likely occured between Sunday evening and Tuesday evening

First rainstorm of the season pelting the Lower Mainland

Batten down the hatches as heavy rains, wind, and some localized flooding possible

Man wanted by Abbotsford Police for domestic assault

Morgan Knull, 27, has multiple prior convictions

Irish folk supergroup Kíla set to perform on Saturday

Online concert will be available through Harrison Festival Society

B.C. reports 91 new cases as officials remain worried over ‘clusters of COVID-19

There have now been a total of 8,395 cases in B.C. since the pandemic began

Canada’s active COVID-19 cases top 10,000 as daily new cases triple over the past month

Dr. Tam repeated her warning to young people, who have made up the majority of recent cases

First 8 months of fatal overdoses in B.C. have now exceeded 2019 death toll

Nine people died every two days in August, BC Coroners Service data shows

Liberal effort to reset policy agenda panned by rivals as too much talk, not action

Trudeau said it’s ‘all too likely’ families won’t be able to gather for Thanksgiving next month

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

‘Show us the money’ for cannabis, local governments tell B.C.

Municipal tax, transit revenues falling as costs rise

Young man assaulted, left for 12 hours until help called in Vancouver’s Strathcona Park

Vancouver police are looking to identify the victim as they investigate an assault on Monday evening

‘It’s a boy’: Southern Resident killer whale calf born to J Pod is healthy, researchers say

J35 had previously done a ‘Tour of Grief,’ carrying her dead calf for 17 days

People ‘disgusted’ by COVID-19 election call, B.C. Liberal leader says

Andrew Wilkinson speaks to municipal leaders from Victoria

Most Read