Climate in 520 Cities Around the World in 2050 – A Grim Picture

  • The climate in Madrid in 2050 will look more like the climate in Marrakesh, Morocco today. Stockholm will feel more like Budapest, London like Barcelona, Moscow like Sofia, Seattle like San Francisco, and Tokyo like Changsa in China. 

The research “Understanding Climate Change Starting with an Analysis of Similar Cities” published in the scientific magazine PLOS ONE by The Crowther Lab of ETH Zurich, paints a grim picture of the future for the world’s urban centers.

Reason for the study? The global assessment of city analogues can facilitate the understanding of climate change at a global level but also help land managers and city planners to visualize the climate futures of their respective cities, which can facilitate effective decision-making in response to on-going climate change.

The motive behind analyzing the climate of 520 world’s cities with populations of 1,000,000 or more was to visualize the climatic change for cities in the future and to inspire action that would help to change this outcome for people across the globe.

Some of the questions that the research sought to answer: What percentage of the world’s principal cities will maintain their current climate conditions vs. which cities will take on the climates of other cities in other geographic regions? More importantly, what percentage of cities will experience new climatic changes beyond what they are able to currently handle and, if these cities do change their climatic conditions, will this change be uniform across the planet?

via PLoS ONE Licensed under CC BY 4.0
Credit: PLoS ONE Licensed under CC BY 4.0


“Even in a best-case climate scenario, we found that 77% of cities in the future will probably experience a climate more similar to another city than to their current one. Furthermore, 22% of cities will experience climatic conditions unlike any ever experienced today.”

“As a general trend, we see that all of the cities surveyed are taking on more subtropical characteristics, with cities in the northern hemisphere changing to warmer conditions, similar to regions 1000 km south of them, while cities in the tropics take on drier conditions.”

via PLoS ONE Licensed under CC BY 4.0
Credit: PLoS ONE Licensed under CC BY 4.0


What about Latin America’s Major Cities?

Buenos Aires will have a climate similar to Sydney’s; Santiago de Chile to Nicosia’s, the capital of Cyprus; Quito will be like Durban in South Africa; Mexico City like Gaborone in Botswana, Africa, Sao Paulo like Miami, and Sucre like Mexico City. You can see these cities and more with this interactive map.

Link to the full academic paper here.

Author: Fabian Dejtiar

This article was first published in Arch Daily and is republished with permission.

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