New research has found that nearly 80% of the world’s cities will undergo dramatic and potentially disastrous changes as a result of global heating, with some cities on or near the equator experiencing conditions never seen on the earth before.
The study, published by the journal Plos One and carried out by scientists from the Crowther Lab in Switzerland, looked at 520 major cities and found that eight in 10 will experience dramatic changes.
They predicted that cities currently in temperate or cold zones in the northern hemisphere, like Oslo or St Petersburg, will in 30 years have climates that resemble cities 1,000km closer to the equator.
Madrid will resemble Marrakech in Morocco; Stockholm will feel like Budapest and Seattle will be like San Francisco.
Temperature increases are forecast to rise in most European cities by 3.5C in summer and 4.7C in winter, which for many cities will mean water shortages. Extreme flooding, as well as frequent droughts, will also become a regular occurrence in many European cities.
But if Londoners think that it might be pleasant to have a climate more like Barcelona, then think again. Barcelona suffered an extreme drought just over ten years ago and had to import drinking water at a cost of tens of millions of euros. While London’s geology is not suited to a dry climate.
“Bringing Barcelona’s climate to London sounds like it could be a good thing if you don’t suffer from asthma or have a heart condition – except London clay shrinks and is brittle if it gets too dry, then swells and expands when very wet. The greater swings in ground moisture expected in a warmer world would cause massive subsidence problems,” Mike Lockwood, a professor of space environment physics at Reading University, told the Guardian.
Conditions Never Seen on Earth Before
Some cities on or near the equator, such as Singapore, Jakarta and Kuala Lumpur are predicted to experience conditions never seen on earth before. These cities, about a fifth of all cities globally, will suffer from more erratic and extreme rainfall as well as severe droughts. It is not known if the inhabitants of these severely affected cities will be able to adapt to the new environment or will have to move elsewhere.
Concern that the world is in no way prepared for global heating and the scale of the climate crisis is mounting among scientists and experts.
This study took as its baseline forecasts from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, a temperature rise of 2C above pre-industrial levels by 2050, although many scientists are now predicting that the rise will be higher than this.
However, Frederike Otto, the deputy director of the Environmental Change Institute at Oxford University, who was not involved in the research, told the Guardian that it should be treated with caution and that there are many variables involved.
“It is a useful way to start thinking outside the box, but it does not show London’s future. It could well be that rainfall in winter changes in London in the opposite way to Barcelona,” he said.
It is generally regarded that urban areas are more susceptible to climate change disasters than rural ones.