80% of cities around the globe are expected to undergo dramatic and potentially
disastrous changes, study finds.
London will have a similar climate in three decades’ time to that of Barcelona today, according to research – but if that seems enticing, a warning: the change could be accompanied by severe drought.
Madrid will feel like present-day Marrakech by 2050, and Stockholm like Budapest, according to a report on the likely impacts of the climate crisis. Around the world, cities that are currently in temperate or cold zones in the northern hemisphere will resemble cities more than 600 miles (1,000km) closer to the equator, with damaging effects on health and infrastructure.
Among other analogues, the study suggests Moscow will resemble Sofia, Seattle will feel like San Francisco and New York will be comparable to Virginia Beach. The researchers have created an interactive map showing hundreds of cities and their 2050 counterparts.
Water shortages will affect scores of cities now in temperate climates as a result of the global heating, which is forecast to be by as much as 3.5C in European cities in summer and 4.7C in winter.
Nearly eight in 10 cities will experience dramatic changes, according to the study of 520 major cities published in the journal Plos One.
Barcelona was affected by extreme drought just over 10 years ago, endangering many inhabitants and resulting in tens of millions of euros being spent on importing drinking water. It is becoming more likely that London and cities in similar latitudes will experience the same problems in the future, say the researchers.
Among the most concerning findings is that the residents of about a fifth of cities globally – including Jakarta, Singapore, Yangon and Kuala Lumpur – will experience conditions currently not seen in any major cities in the world. This unprecedented level of change “blew my mind”, said Tom Crowther, founder of the Crowther Lab in Switzerland, which carried out the research.
A Guest Editorial