New interactive map shows what an additional 4 °C (7 °F) on average would mean for the Earth if business as usual carries on into the century.
Heat waves like we’ve never seen or felt before. Paris, Budapest, New York, Toronto, Beijing, all sweltering in humid, 50°C heat on the hottest days of summer. This, accompanied by a potentially mind-boggling number of heat-related deaths, power-outages and we can imagine, pandemonium and mayhem.
This is one of the scenarios revealed in a new online and interactive map released by the UK’s Met Office, which plots what an average increase in global temperatures of 4 °C (7 °F) would mean for the various regions and cities around the world by mid-to-end of this century.
4 °C would not be equally distributed, with polar regions experiencing far higher temperatures (up to 12°C higher) while air temperatures over water would increase the least.
3 areas are identified as being particularly at risk for large increases in summer temperatures: central Europe, the north-eastern United States and Canada, and eastern China, areas all presently prone to regular and assiduous summer heat waves.
According to the Met Office:
“Temperature increases in several highly populated regions are very large and, based on the impacts of recent extreme heat events, are potentially beyond the limits of adaptation.”
With scientists now 95% certain (according to the recently released IPCC report) that human activity is the main driver of climate change, and a widespread acceptance across the scientific community that the past 15 years represent only a blip on an otherwise steady, upward trajectory of warming since the industrial revolution, this chilling data is a wake up call to governments and city-dwellers.
Dr Robin Clark, who conducted the study for the Met Office, compared the occurrence of maximum temperatures in the pre-industrial climate to those that would be expected to occur in a world with a global average temperature +4 °C (7 °F) higher than the pre-industrial climate under a scenario of doubling of atmospheric CO2. Those models predicts a global average temperatures increase of between 3.5 and 4.5 °C, by the end of the century.
These were then used to give estimates of increases in the maximum temperature on hot summer days likely to result from an average 4 °C global warming.
What we can expect:
According to the research, even the “most benign projections” give increases of 4 to 6 °C in eastern North America, while an upper estimate plot predicts increases greater than 8 °C over European regions impacted by the extreme 2003 heat waves and suggests that “increases of 10 to 12 °C can not be ruled out over Toronto, Chicago, Ottawa and New York.”