See Just How Warm Winter Will Be in Your Hometown, Thanks to Climate Change
In coming decades, could frigid Buffalo, New York, experience winters as mild as Charlotte, North Carolina’s? And will Coeur d’Alene, Idaho’s January be as warm as Victorville, California’s?
Those are just a few examples of what winter in the United States could feel like if we continue on our current climate trajectory.
Nonprofit group Climate Central has put the projections into an interactive map of 697 U.S. cities, allowing people to enter a destination and find out what their hometown’s winter will feel like in 2100.
Based on United Nations climate change projections, more than 80 percent of the 697 cities examined will see at least half as many freezing nights as they do now.
For instance, by the end of the century, residents of Helena, Montana, could experience about 85 fewer freezing nights then they do now, which would make their winter feel as mild as one in present-day Lubbock, Texas.
“In spite of last year’s East Coast blizzard and polar vortex, winters have, on average, been getting warmer since the 1970s,” says Climate Central. “One of the starkest examples of this is the overall drop in the number of nights below freezing in most cities.”
With the Northern Hemisphere’s population awaiting spring, warmer winters don’t sound like such a bad thing. But they could result in environmental devastation.
Many crops rely on a chill period to grow properly—apple trees in New York, for example—and without it, yields could decline. Pests that usually die off during a winter freeze could flourish, spreading disease. And many animals’ survival depends on a cooler climate.
But the end of winter isn’t a foregone conclusion. The projections assume the world will keep burning coal, oil, and natural gas. If nations can reach an agreement to limit greenhouse gas emissions at the U.N. Climate Change Conference set to begin in Paris in December, winters might just remain a bit colder in the new century.