Washington, D.C. can become as warm and humid as Memphis or Jackson, Mississippi in the next 60 years if the present trends in climate change continue, according to researchers who conducted a study published by the peer-reviewed journal Nature Communications.
Likely climate changes in 540 U.S. cities with a combined population of 250 million people were mapped by the researchers over the coming six decades under two scenarios of greenhouse gas emissions.
“Within the lifetime of children living today, the climate of many regions is projected to change from the familiar to conditions unlike those experienced in the same place by their parents, grandparents, or perhaps any generation for millennia,” said lead author Matthew Fitzpatrick, an associate professor at the University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science.
The report was authored by Fitzpatrick along with Robert Dunn of the University of Denmark.
Fitzpatrick told AFP that some people might interpret these changes as an upgrade in their city’s climate. However, he added, these changes come at the cost of a number of potentially severe secondary effects.
“These include increased food prices, water shortages, increased cooling demands, coastal flooding, extreme climate events, the arrival of pest organisms, and more disease,” said Fitzpatrick.
According to Fitzpatrick, even under more optimistic circumstances, “climate in North American urban areas will feel substantially different than they do today.”
The study has not considered additional warming due to the “urban heat island effect” which can increase temperatures by several degrees leading to deaths from heat strokes.
If carbon pollution is controlled to keep global warming at about 3 degrees Celsius (3°C) (5.4 degrees Fahrenheit), climate change might be less dramatic, according to the report.