If emissions continue apace, San Jose will feel more like the SoCal town of Glendale in 60 years—a few degrees warmer and much, much drier.
That’s according to a new interactive map published this week in the journal Nature Communications, which offers an unsettling preview at the future climate of 540 cities in North America by comparing them with towns in the present.
The data is nothing new, but the way it’s presented in climate-analog mapping represents a change in the way scientists are trying to communicate their findings to the general public in a way that’s more relatable and less abstract.
Researchers found that by 2080, San Francisco would feel like the Southern California town Palos Verdes Estates does today, about 7 degrees warmer and 40 percent drier. Santa Cruz would feel like North Hollywood, which is 6 degrees hotter and nearly 50 percent drier. Gilroy would get 61 percent wetter and more than 8 degrees warmer like the desert town of Jurupa Valley hundreds of miles south.
“We find that if emissions continue to rise throughout the 21st century, climate of North American urban areas will become, on average, most like the contemporary climate of locations 850 km away and mainly to the south, with the distance, direction, and degree of similarity to the best analog varying by region and assumptions regarding future climate,” University of Maryland scientist Matthew Fitzpatrick and his co-authors wrote in summarizing their study.
Some places would fare far worse. “Many cities could experience climates with no modern equivalent in North America,” he cautioned.
The temperature change doesn’t capture the full impact of a warmer climate, however. That few-degree uptick in Silicon Valley, for example, would be accompanied by increased flooding, rising sea levels that will overtake shoreline communities like Mountain View and San Jose’s Alviso.
Thankfully, San Jose as a city is doing its part to curb emissions. When President Trump pulled out of the Paris agreement, San Jose adopted goals that align with the international pact. Click here to read more about Climate Smart San Jose, and here to play around with the interactive future-climate-predicting map.